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INDEX 299 



MAN WHO LIVES IN a world of hazards is compelled to seek 
for security. He has sought to attain it in two ways. One of 
them began with an attempt to propitiate the powers which 
environ him and determine his destiny. It expressed itself in 
supplication, sacrifice, ceremonial rite and magical cult. In time 
these crude methods were largely displaced. The sacrifice of a 
contrite heart was esteemed more pleasing than that of bulls 
and oxen; the inner attitude of reverence and devotion more 
desirable than external ceremonies. If man could not conquer 
destiny he could willingly ally himself with it; putting his 
will, even in sore affliction, on the side of the powers which 
dispense fortune, he could escape defeat and might triumph in 
the midst of destruction. 

The other course is to invent arts and by their means turn 
the powers of nature to account ; man constructs a fortress out 
of the very conditions and forces which threaten him. He 
builds shelters, weaves garments, makes flame his friend instead 
of his enemy, and grows into the complicated arts of associated 
living. This is the method of changing the world through 
action, as the other is the method of changing the self in emo- 
tion and idea. It is a commentary on the slight control man 
has obtained over himself by means of control over nature, that 
the method of action has been felt to manifest dangerous pride, 
even defiance of the powers which be. People of old wavered 
between thinking arts to be the gift of the gods and to be an 
invasion of their prerogatives. Both versions testify to the sense 
of something extraordinary in the arts, something either super- 
human or unnatural. The souls who have predicted that by 


means of the arts man might establish a kingdom of order, 
justice and beauty through mastery of nature's energies and 
laws have been few and little heeded. 

Men have been glad enough to enjoy the fruits of such 
arts as they possess, and in recent centuries have increasingly 
devoted themselves to their multiplication. But this effort has 
been conjoined with a profound distrust of the arts as a method 
of dealing with the serious perils of life. Doubt as to the truth 
of this statement will be dispelled if one considers the dis- 
esteem in which the idea of practice has been held. Philosophers 
have celebrated the method of change in personal ideas, and 
religious teachers that of change in the affections of the heart. 
These conversions have been prized on their own account, and 
only incidentally because of a change in action which would 
ensue. The latter has been esteemed as an evidence of the 
change in thought and sentiment, not as a method of trans- 
forming the scene of life. The places in which the use of the 
arts has effected actual objective transformation have been 
regarded as inferior, if not base, and the activities connected 
with them as menial. The disparagement attending the idea of 
the material has seized upon them. The honourable quality 
associated with the idea of the "spiritual" has been reserved 
for change in inner attitudes. 

The depreciation of action, of doing and making, has been 
cultivated by philosophers. But while philosophers have per- 
petuated the derogation by formulating and justifying it, they 
did not originate it. They glorified their own office without 
doubt in placing theory so much above practice. But indepen- 
dently of their attitude, many things conspired to the same 
effect. Work has been onerous, toilsome, associated with a 
primeval curse. It has been done under compulsion and the 
pressure of necessity, while intellectual activity is associated 
with leisure. On account of the unpleasantness of practical 
activity, as much of it as possible has been put upon slaves and 
serfs. Thus the social dishonour in which this class was held 


was extended to the work they do. There is also the age-long 
association of knowing and thinking with immaterial and 
spiritual principles, and of the arts, of all practical activity in 
doing and making, with matter. For work is done with the 
body, by means of mechanical appliances, and is directed upon 
material things. The disrepute which has attended the thought 
of material things in comparison with immaterial thought has 
been transferred to everything associated with practice. 

One might continue in this strain. The natural history of 
conceptions about work and the arts if it were traced through 
a succession of peoples and cultures would be instructive. But 
all that is needed for our purpose is to raise the question : Why 
this invidious discrimination ? A very little reflection shows that 
the suggestions which have been offered by way of explanation 
themselves need to be explained. Ideas derived from social 
castes and emotional revulsions are hardly reasons to be offered 
in justification of a belief, although they may have a bearing 
on its causation. Contempt for matter and bodies and glorifica- 
tion of the immaterial are affairs which are not self-explana- 
tory. And, as we shall be at some pains to show later in the 
discussion, the idea which connects thinking and knowing with 
some principle or force that is wholly separate from connection 
with physical things will not stand examination, especially since 
the whole-hearted adoption of experimental method in the 
natural sciences. 

The questions suggested have far-reaching issues. What is 
the cause and the import of, the sharp division between theory 
and practice ? Why should the latter be disesteemed along with 
matter and the body? What has been the effect upon the 
various modes in which action is manifested: industry, politics, 
the fine arts, and upon morals conceived of as overt activity 
having consequences, instead of as mere inner personal attitude ? 
How has the separation of intellect from action affected the 
theory of knowledge? What has been in particular the effect 
upon the conception and course of philosophy? What forces 


are at work to break down the division? What would the 
effect be if the divorce were annulled, and knowing and doing 
were brought into intrinsic connection with one another? What 
revisions of the traditional theory of mind, thought and know- 
ing would be required, and what change in the idea of the office 
of philosophy would be demanded ? What modifications would 
ensue in the disciplines which are concerned with the various 
phases of human activity ? 

These questions form the theme of this book, and indicate 
the nature of the problems to be discussed. In this opening 
chapter we shall consider especially some historic grounds for 
the elevation of knowledge above making and doing. This 
phase of the discussion will disclose that exaltation of pure 
intellect and its activity above practical affairs is fundamentally 
connected with the quest for a certainty which shall be absolute 
and unshakeable. The distinctive characteristic of practical 
activity, one which is so inherent that it cannot be eliminated, 
is the uncertainty which attends it. Of it we are compelled to 
say: Act, but act at your peril. Judgment and belief regarding 
actions to be performed can never attain more than a pre- 
carious probability. Through thought, however, it has seemed 
that men might escape from the perils of uncertainty. 

Practical activity deals with individualized and unique 
situations which are never exactly duplicable and about which, 
accordingly, no complete assurance is possible. All activity, 
moreover, involves change. The intellect, however, according 
to the traditional doctrine, may grasp universal Being, and 
Being which is universal is fixed and immutable. Wherever 
there is practical activity we human beings are involved as par- 
takers in the issue. All the fear, disesteem and lack of confi- 
dence which gather about the thought of ourselves, cluster also 
about the thought of the actions in which we are partners. 
Man's distrust of himself has caused him to desire to get 
beyond and above himself; in pure knowledge he has thought 
he could attain this self-transcendence. 


There is no need to expatiate upon the risk which attends 
overt action. The burden of proverbs and wise saws is that the 
best laid plans of men as of mice gang agley. Fortune rather 
than our own intent and act determines eventual success and 
failure. The pathos of unfulfilled expectation, the tragedy of 
defeated purpose and ideals, the catastrophes of accident, are 
the commonplaces of all comment on the human scene. We 
survey conditions, make the wisest choice we can; we act, and 
we must trust the rest to fate, fortune or providence. Moralists 
tell us to look to the end when we act and then inform us that 
the end is always uncertain. Judging, planning, choice, no 
matter how thoroughly conducted, and action no matter how 
prudently executed, never are the sole determinants of any 
outcome. Alien and indifferent natural forces, unforeseeable 
conditions, enter in and have a decisive voice. The more impor- 
tant the issue, the greater is their say as to the ulterior event. 

Hence men have longed to find a realm in which there is 
an activity which is not overt and which has no external conse- 
quences. "Safety first" has played a large role in effecting a 
preference for knowing over doing and making. With those to 
whom the process of pure thinking is congenial and who have 
the leisure and the aptitude to pursue their preference, the 
happiness attending knowing is unalloyed ; it is not entangled 
in the risks which overt action cannot escape. Thought has been 
alleged to be a purely inner activity, intrinsic to mind alone; 
and according to traditional classic doctrine, "mind" is complete 
and self-sufficient in itself. Overt action may follow upon its 
operations but in an external way, a way not intrinsic to its 
completion. Since rational activity is complete within itself it 
needs no external manifestation. Failure and frustration are 
attributed to the accidents of an alien, intractable and inferior 
realm of existence. The outer lot of thought is cast in a world 
external to it, but one which in no way injures the supremacy 
and completeness of thought and knowledge in their intrinsic 


Thus the arts by which man attains such practical security 
as is possible of achievement are looked down upon. The 
security they provide is relative, ever incomplete, at the risk of 
untoward circumstance. /The multiplication of arts may even 
be bemoaned as a source of new dangers. Each of them 
demands its own measures of protection. Each one in its opera- 
tion brings with it new and unexpected consequences having 
perils for which we are not prepared. The quest for certainty 
is a quest for a peace which is assured, an object which is un- 
qualified by risk and the shadow of fear which action casts. 
For it is not uncertainty per se which men dislike, but the fact 
that uncertainty involves us in peril of evils. Uncertainty that 
affected only the detail of consequences to be experienced pro- 
vided they had a warrant of being enjoyable would have no 
sting. It would bring the zest of adventure and the spice of 
variety. Quest for complete certainty can be fulfilled in pure 
knowing alone. Such is the verdict of our most enduring 
philosophic tradition. 

While the tradition has, as we shall see later, found its way 
into all themes and subjects, and determines the form of current 
problems and conclusions regarding mind and knowledge, it 
may be doubted whether if we were suddenly released from 
the burden of tradition we should, on the basis of present 
experience, take the disparaging view of practice and the exalted 
view of knowledge apart from action which tradition dictates. 
For man, in spite of the new perils in which the machinery of 
his new arts of production and transportation have involved 
him, has learned to play with sources of danger. He even seeks 
them out, weary of the routine of a too sheltered life. The 
enormous change taking place in the position of women is itself, 
for example, a commentary on a change of attitude toward the 
value of protection as an end in itself. We have attained, at 
least subconsciously, a certain feeling of confidence ; a feeling 
that control of the main conditions of fortune is to an appre- 
ciable degree passing into our own hands. We live surrounded 


with the protection of thousands of arts and we have devised 
schemes of insurance which mitigate and distribute the evils 
which accrue. Barring the fears which war leaves in its train, 
it is perhaps a safe speculation that if contemporary western 
man were completely deprived of all the old beliefs about 
knowledge and actions, he would assume, with a fair degree of 
confidence, that it lies within his power to achieve a reasonable 
degree of security in life. 

This suggestion is speculative. Acceptance of it is not needed 
by the argument. It has its value as an indication of the earlier 
conditions in which a felt need for assurance was the dominant 
emotion. For primitive man had none of the elaborate arts of 
protection and use Avhich we now enjoy and no confidence in 
his own powers when they were reinforced by appliances of art. 
He lived under conditions in which he was extraordinarily 
exposed to peril, and at the same time he was without the 
means of defence which are to-day matters of course. Most of 
our simplest tools and utensils did not exist; there was no 
accurate foresight; man faced the forces of nature in a state 
of nakedness which was more than physical ; save under un- 
usually benign conditions he was beset with dangers that knew 
no remission. In consequence, mystery attended experiences of 
good and evil ; they could not be traced to their natural causes 
and they seemed to be the dispensations, the gifts and the 
inflictions, of powers beyond possibility of control. The pre- 
carious crises of birth, puberty, illness, death, war, famine, 
plague, the uncertainties of the hunt, the vicissitudes of climate 
and the great seasonal changes, kept imagination occupied with 
the uncertain. Any scene or object that was implicated in any 
conspicuous tragedy or triumph, in no matter how accidental 
a way, got a peculiar significance. It was seized upon as a 
harbinger of good or as an omen of evil. Accordingly, some 
things were cherished as means of encompassing safety, just as 
a good artisan to-day looks after his tools ; others were feared 
and shunned because of their potencies for harm. 


As a drowning man is said to grasp at a straw, so men who 
lacked the instruments and skills developed in later days 
snatched at whatever, by any stretch of imagination, could be 
regarded as a source of help in time of trouble. The attention, 
interest and care which now go to acquiring skill in the use 
of appliances and to the invention of means for better service 
of ends, were devoted to noting omens, making irrelevant 
prognostications, performing ritualistic ceremonies and mani- 
pulating objects possessed of magical power over natural 
events. In such an atmosphere primitive religion was born and 
fostered. Rather, this atmosphere was the religious disposition. 

Search for alliance with means which might promote pros- 
perity and which would afford defence against hostile powers 
was constant. While this attitude was most marked in connec- 
tion with the recurrent crises of life, yet the boundary line 
between these crucial affairs with their extraordinary risks and 
everyday acts was shadowy. The acts that related to common- 
place things and everyday occupations were usually accom- 
panied, for good measure of security, by ritual acts. The 
making of a weapon, the moulding of a bowl, the weaving of a 
mat, the sowing of seed, the reaping of a harvest, required acts 
different in kind to the technical skills employed. These other 
acts had a special solemnity and were thought necessary in order 
to ensure the success of the practical operations used. 

While it is difficult to avoid the use of the word supernatural, 
we must avoid the meaning the word has for us. As long as 
there was no defined area of the natural, that which is over 
and beyond the natural can have no significance. The distinc- 
tion, as anthropological students have pointed out, was between 
ordinary and extraordinary; between the prosaic, usual run of 
events and the crucial incident or irruption which determined 
the direction which the average and expected course of events 
took. But the two realms were in no way sharply demarcated 
from each other. There was a no-man's-land, a vague territory, 
in which they overlapped. At any moment the extraordinary 


might invade the commonplace and either wreck it or clothe it 
with some surprising glory. The use of ordinary things under 
critical conditions was fraught with inexplicable potentialities 
of good and evil. 

The two dominant conceptions, cultural categories one 
might call them, which grew and flourished under such circum- 
stances were those of the Jioly and the fortunate, with their 
opposites, the profane and the unlucky. As with the idea of the 
supernatural, meanings are not to be assigned on the basis of 
present usage. Everything which was charged with some extra- 
ordinary potency for benefit or injury was holy; holiness 
meant necessity for being approached with ceremonial scruples. 
The holy thing, whether place, object, person or ritual appli- 
ance, has its sinister face; "to be handled with care" is written 
upon it. From it there issues the command: Noli me t anger e, 
Tabus, a whole set of prohibitions and injunctions, gather about 
it. It is capable of transmitting its mysterious potency to other 
things. To secure the favour of the holy is to be on the road tc 
success, while any conspicuous success is proof of the favoui 
of some overshadowing power a fact which politicians of all 
ages have known how to utilize. Because of its surcharge of 
power, ambivalent in quality, the holy has to be approached 
not only with scruples but in an attitude of subjection. There 
are rites of purification, humiliation, fasting and prayer which 
are preconditions of securing its favour. 

The holy is the bearer of blessing or fortune. But a differ- 
ence early developed between the ideas of the holy and the 
lucky, because of the different dispositions in which each was 
to be approached. A lucky object is something to be used. It is 
to be manipulated rather than approached with awe. It calls 
for incantations, spells, divinations rather than for supplication 
and humiliation. Moreover, the lucky thing tends to be a 
concrete and tangible object, while the holy one is not usually 
definitely localized; it is the more potent in the degree in 
which its habitation and form are vague. The lucky object is 


subject to pressure, at a pinch to coercion, to scolding and 
punishment. It might be discarded if it failed to bring luck. 
There developed a certain element of mastery in its use, in 
distinction from the dependence and subjection which remained 
the proper attitude toward the holy. Thus there was a kind 
of rhythm of domination and submission, of imprecation and 
supplication, of utilization and communion. 

Such statements give, of course, a one-sided picture. Men at 
all times have gone about many things in a matter-of-fact way 
and have had their daily enjoyments. Even in the ceremonies 
of which we have spoken there entered the ordinary love of 
the dramatic as well as the desire for repetition, once routine 
was established. Primitive man early developed some tools and 
some modes of skill. With them went prosaic knowledge of 
the properties of ordinary things. But these beliefs were sur- 
rounded by others of an imaginative and emotional type, and 
were more or less submerged in the latter. Moreover, prestige 
attached to the latter. Just because some beliefs were matter- 
of-fact they did not have the weight and authority that belong 
to those about the extraordinary and unaccountable. We find 
the same phenomenon repeated to-day wherever religious 
beliefs have marked vitality. 

Prosaic beliefs about verifiable facts, beliefs backed up by 
evidence of the senses and by useful fruits, had little glamour 
and prestige compared with the vogue of objects of rite and 
ceremony. Hence the things forming their subject-matter were 
felt to be lower in rank. Familiarity breeds a sense of equality 
if not of contempt. We deem ourselves on a par with things we 
daily administer. It is a truism to say that objects regarded 
with awe have perforce a superior status. Herein is the source 
of the fundamental dualism of human attention and regard. 
The distinction between the two attitudes of everyday control 
and dependence on something superior was finally generalized 
intellectually. It took effect in the conception of two distinct 
realms. The inferior was that in which man could foresee and 


in which he had instruments and arts by which he might expect 
a reasonable degree of control. The superior was that of occur- 
rences so uncontrollable that they testified to the presence and 
operation of powers beyond the scope of everyday and mundane 

The philosophical tradition regarding knowledge and prac- 
tice, the immaterial or spiritual and the material, was not 
original and primitive. It had for its background the state of 
culture which has been sketched. It developed in a social 
atmosphere in which the division of the ordinary and extra- 
ordinary was domesticated. Philosophy reflected upon it and 
gave it a rational formulation and justification. The bodies of 
information that corresponded to the everyday arts, the store 
of matter-of-fact knowledge, were things men knew because of 
what they did. They were products and promises of utilities. 
They shared in the relatively low esteem belonging to such 
things in comparison with the extraordinary and divine. 
Philosophy inherited the realm with which religion had been 
concerned. Its mode of knowing was different from that accom- 
panying the empirical arts, just because it dealt with a realm 
of higher Being. It breathed an air purer than that in which 
exist the making and doing that relate to livelihood, just as 
the activities which took the form of rites and ceremonies were 
nobler and nearer the divine than those spent in toil. 

The change from religion to philosophy was so great in 
form that their identity as to content is easily lost from view. 
The form ceases to be that of the story told in imaginative and 
emotional style, and becomes that of rational discourse observ- 
ing the canons of logic. It is well known that that portion of 
Aristotle's system which later generations have called meta- 
physics he called First Philosophy. It is possible to quote from 
him sentences descriptive of "First Philosophy" which make it 
seem that the philosophic enterprise is a coldly rational one, 
objective and analytic. Thus he says it is the most comprehen- 
sive of all branches of knowledge because it has for its subject- 



matter definition of the traits which belong to all forms of 
Being whatsoever, however much they may differ from one 
another in detail. 

But when these passages are placed in the context they had 
in Aristotle's own mind, it is clear that the comprehensiveness 
and universality of first philosophy are not of a strictly analytic 
sort. They mark a distinction with respect to grade of value and 
title to reverence. For he explicitly identifies his first philosophy 
or metaphysics with theology; he says it is higher than 
other sciences. For these deal with generation and production, 
while its subject-matter permits of demonstrative, that is neces- 
sary, truth; and its objects are divine and such as are meet for 
God to occupy himself with. Again, he says that the objects 
of philosophy are such as are the causes of as much of the 
divine as is manifest to us, and that if the divine is anywhere 
present, it is present in things of the sort with which philosophy 
deals. The supremacy of worth and dignity of these objects 
is also made clear in the statement that the Being with which 
philosophy is occupied is primary, eternal and self-sufficient, 
because its nature is the Good, so that the Good is among the 
first principles which are philosophy's subject-matter: yet 
not, it must be understood, the good in the sense in which it 
has meaning and standing in human life but the inherently 
and eternally perfect, that which is complete and self- 

Aristotle tells us that from remote antiquity tradition has 
handed down the idea, in story form, that the heavenly bodies 
are gods, and that the divine encompasses the entire natural 
world. This core of truth, he goes on to say in effect, was em- 
broidered with myths for the benefit of the masses, for reasons 
of expediency, namely, the preservation of social institutions. 
The negative work of philosophy was then to strip away these 
imaginative accretions. From the standpoint of popular belief 
this was its chief work, and it was a destructive one. The masses 
only felt that their religion was attacked. But the enduring 


contribution was positive. The belief that the divine encom- 
passes the world was detached from its mythical context and 
made the basis of philosophy, and it became also the foundation 
of physical science as is suggested by the remark that the 
heavenly bodies are gods. Telling the story of the universe in,' 
the form of rational discourse instead of emotionalized imagi- 
nation signified the discovery of logic as a rational science., 
Conformity on the part of supreme reality to the requirements 
of logic conferred upon its constitutive objects necessary and 
immutable characteristics. Pure contemplation of these forms 
was man's highest and most divine bliss, a communion with 
unchangeable truth. 

The geometry of Euclid doubtless gave the clue to logic 
as the instrument of translation of what was sound in opinion 
into the forms of rational discourse. Geometry seemed to 
reveal the possibility of a science which owed nothing to 
observation and sense beyond mere exemplification in figures 
or diagrams. It seemed to disclose a world of ideal (or non- 
sensible) forms which were connected with one another by 
eternal and necessary relations which reason alone could 
trace. This discovery was generalized by philosophy into 
the doctrine of a realm of fixed Being which, when grasped 
by thought, formed a complete system of immutable and 
necessary truth. 

If one looks at the foundations of the philosophies of Plato 
and Aristotle as an anthropologist looks at his material, that 
is, as cultural subject-matter, it is clear that these philosophies 
were systematizations in rational form of the content of Greek 
religious and artistic beliefs. The systematization involved a 
purification. Logic provided the patterns to which ultimately 
real objects had to conform, while physical science was pos- 
sible in the degree in which the natural world, even in its 
mutabilities, exhibited exemplification of ultimate immutable 
rational objects. Thus, along with the elimination of myths and 
grosser superstitions, there were set up the ideals of science and 


of a life of reason. Ends which could justify themselves to 
reason were to take the place of custom as the guide of conduct. 
These two ideals form a permanent contribution to western 

But with all our gratitude for these enduring gifts, we 
cannot forget the conditions which attended them. For they 
brought with them the idea of a higher realm of fixed reality 
of which alone true science is possible and of an inferior world 
of changing things with which experience and practical matters 
are concerned. They glorified the invariant at the expense of 
change, it being evident that all practical activity falls within 
the realm of change. It bequeathed the notion, which has ruled 
philosophy ever since the time of the Greeks, that the office of 
knowledge is to uncover the antecedently real, rather than, as 
is the case with our practical judgments, to gain the kind of 
understanding which is necessary to deal with problems as they 

In fixing this conception of knowledge it established also, 
as far as philosophies of the classic type are concerned, the 
special task of philosophic inquiry. As a form of knowledge it 
is concerned with the disclosure of the Real in itself, of Being 
in and of itself. It is differentiated from other modes of know- 
ing by its preoccupation with a higher and more ultimate form 
of Being than that with which the sciences of nature are con- 
cerned. As far as it occupied itself at all with human conduct, it 
was to superimpose upon acts ends said to flow from the nature 
of reason. It thus diverted thought from inquiring into the 
purposes which experience of actual conditions suggests and 
from concrete means of their actualization. It translated into a 
rational form the doctrine of escape from the vicissitudes of 
existence by means of measures which do not demand an active 
coping with conditions. For deliverance by means of rites and 
cults, it substituted deliverance through reason. This deliver- 
ance was an intellectual, a theoretical affair, constituted by a 
knowledge to be attained apart from practical activity. 


The realms of knowledge and action were each divided into 
two regions. It is not to be inferred that Greek philosophy 
separated activity from knowing. It connected them. But it 
distinguished activity from action that is, from making and 
doing. Rational and necessary knowledge was treated, as in 
the celebrations of it by Aristotle, as an ultimate, self-sufficient 
and self-enclosed form of self-originated and self-conducted 
activity. It was ideal and eternal, independent of change and 
hence of the world in which men act and live, the world we 
experience perceptibly and practically. "Pure activity" was 
sharply marked off from practical action. The latter, whether 
in the industrial or the fine arts, in morals or in politics, was 
concerned with an inferior region of Being in which change 
rules, and which accordingly has Being only by courtesy, for 
it manifests deficiency of sure footing in Being by the very fact 
of change. It is infected with wow-being. 

On the side of knowledge, the division carried with it a 
difference between knowledge, in its full sense, and belief. The 
former is demonstrative, necessary that is, sure. Belief on the 
contrary is only opinion; in its uncertainty and mere prob- 
ability, it relates to the world of change as knowledge corre- 
sponds to the realm of true reality. This fact brings the discus- 
sion around once more to our special theme as far as it affects 
the conception of the office and nature of philosophy. That man 
has two modes, two dimensions, of belief cannot be doubted. 
He has beliefs about actual existences and the course of events, 
and he has beliefs about ends to be striven for, policies to be 
adopted, goods to be attained and evils to be averted. The most 
urgent of all practical problems concerns the connection the 
subject-matters of these two kinds of beliefs sustain to each 
other. How shall our most authentic and dependable cognitive 
beliefs be used to regulate our practical beliefs ? How shall 
the latter serve to organize and integrate our intellectual 

There is a genuine possibility that the true problem of 


philosophy is connected with precisely this type of question. 
Man has beliefs which scientific inquiry vouchsafes, beliefs 
about the actual structure and processes of things ; and he also 
has beliefs about the values which should regulate his conduct. 
The question of how these two ways of believing may most 
effectively and fruitfully interact with one another is the most 
general and significant of all the problems which life presents 
to us. Some reasoned discipline, one obviously other than any 
science, should deal with this issue. Thus there is supplied one 
way of conceiving of the function of philosophy. But from this 
mode of defining philosophy we are estopped by the chief 
philosophical tradition. For according to it the realms of know- 
ledge and of practical action have no inherent connection with 
each other. Here then is the focus to which the various elements 
in our discussion converge. We may then profitably recapitu- 
late. The realm of the practical is the region of change, and 
change is always contingent ; it has in it an element of chance 
that cannot be eliminated. If a thing changes, its alteration 
is convincing evidence of its lack of true or complete Being. 
What is, in the full and pregnant sense of the world, is always, 
eternally. It is self-contradictory for that which is to alter. If, 
it had no defect or imperfection in it, how could it change? 
That which becomes merely comes to be, never truly is. It is 
infected with non-being ; with privation of Being in the perfect 
sense. The world of generation is the world of decay and 
destruction. Wherever one thing comes into being something 
else passes out of being. 

Thus the depreciation of practice was given a philosophic, 
an ontological, justification. Practical action, as distinct from 
self-revolving rational self-activity, belongs in the realm of 
generation and decay, a realm inferior in value as in Being, 
In form, the quest for absolute certainty has reached its goal. 
Because ultimate Being or reality is fixed, permanent, admit- 
ting of no change or variation, it may be grasped by rational 
intuition and set forth in rational, that is, universal and neces- 


sary, demonstration. I do not doubt that there was a feeling 
before the rise of philosophy that the unalterably fixed and the 
absolutely certain are one, or that change is the source from 
which comes all our uncertainties and woes. But in philosophy 
this inchoate feeling was definitely formulated. It was asserted 
on grounds held to be as demonstrably necessary as are the 
conclusions of geometry and logic. Thus the predisposition of 
philosophy toward the universal, invariant and eternal was 
fixed. It remains the common possession of the entire classic 
philosophic tradition. 

All parts of the scheme hang together. True Being or 
Reality is complete; in being complete, it is perfect, divine, 
immutable, the " unmoved mover ". Then there are things that 
change, that come and go, that are generated and perish, 
because of lack of the stability which participation in ultimate 
Being along confers. These changes, however, have form and 
character and are knowable in the degree in which they tend 
toward an end which is the fulfilment and completion of the 
changes in question. Their instability is not absolute but is 
marked by aspiration toward a goal. 

The perfect and complete is rational thought, the ultimate 
"end" or terminus of all natural movement. That which 
changes, which becomes and passes away, is material; change 
defines the physical. At most and best, it is a potentiality of 
reaching a stable and fixed end. To these two realms belong two 
sorts of knowledge. One of them is alone knowledge in the 
full sense, science. This has a rational, necessary and unchang- 
ing form. It is certain. The other, dealing with change, is 
belief or opinion ; empirical and particular ; it is contingent, a 
matter of probability, not of certainty. The most it can assert 
is that things are so and so "upon the whole", usually. Corre- 
sponding to the division in Being and in knowledge is that in 
activities. Pure activity is rational; it is theoretical, in the sense 
in which theory is apart from practical action. Then there is 
action in doing and making, occupied with the needs and defects 


of the lower realm of change in which, in his physical nature, 
man is implicated. 

Although this Greek formulation was made long ago and 
much of it is now strange in its specific terms, certain features 
of it are as relevant to present thought as they were significant 
in their original formulation. For in spite of the great, the 
enormous changes in the subject-matter and method of the 
sciences and the tremendous expansion of practical activities by 
means of arts and technologies, the main tradition of western 
culture has retained intact this framework of ideas. Perfect 
certainty is what man wants. It cannot be found by practical 
doing or making; these take effect in an uncertain future, and 
involve peril, the risk of misadventure, frustration and failure. 
Knowledge, on the other hand, is thought to be concerned with 
a region of being which is fixed in itself. Being eternal and 
unalterable, human knowing is not to make any difference in 
it. It can be approached through the medium of the appre- 
hensions and demonstrations of thought, or by some other 
organ of mind, which does nothing to the real, except just to 
know it. 

There is involved in these doctrines a whole system of 
philosophical conclusions. The first and foremost is that there 
is complete correspondence between knowledge in its true 
meaning and what is real. What is known, what is true for 
cognition, is what is real in being. The objects of knowledge 
form the standards of measures of the reality of all other 
objects of experience. Are the objects of the affections, of desire, 
effort, choice, that is to say everything to which we attach 
value, real? Yes, if they can be warranted by knowledge; if we 
can know objects having these value properties, we are justified 
in thinking them real. But as objects of desire and purpose 
they have no sure place in Being until they are approached and 
validated through knowledge. The idea is so familiar that we 
overlook the unexpressed premise upon which it rests, namely 
that only the completely fixed and unchanging can be real. 


/The quest for certitude has determined our basic meta- 
' physics. 

Secondly, the theory of knowledge has its basic premises 
fixed by the same doctrine. For knowledge to be certain must 
relate to that which has antecedent existence or essential being. 
There are certain things which are alone inherently the proper 
objects of knowledge and science. Things in the production of 
which we participate we cannot know in the true sense of the 
word, for such things succeed instead of preceding our action. 
What concerns action forms the realm of mere guesswork and 
probability, as distinct from the warrant of rational assurance 
which is the ideal of true knowledge. We are so accustomed to 
the separation of knowledge from doing and making that we 
fail to recognize how it controls our conceptions of mind, of 
consciousness and of reflective inquiry. For as relates to genuine 
knowledge, these must all be defined, on the basis of the 
premise, so as not to admit of the presence of any overt 
action that modifies conditions having prior and independent 

Special theories of knowledge differ enormously from one 
another. Their quarrels with one another fill the air. The din 
thus created makes us deaf to the way in which they say one 
thing in common. The controversies are familiar. Some theories 
ascribe the ultimate test of knowledge to impressions passively 
received, forced upon us whether we will or no. Others ascribe 
the guarantee of knowledge to synthetic activity of the intellect. 
Idealistic theories hold that mind and the object known are 
ultimately one ; realistic doctrines reduce knowledge to aware- 
ness of what exists independently, and so on. But they all make 
one common assumption. They all hold that the operation of 
inquiry excludes any element of practical activity that enters 
into the construction of the object known. Strangely enough, 
this is as true of idealism as of realism, of theories of synthetic 
activity as of those of passive receptivity. For according to them 
"mind" constructs the known object not in any observable way, 


or by means of practical overt acts having a temporal quality, 
but by some occult internal operation. 

The common essence of all these theories, in short, is that 
what is known is antecedent to the mental act of observation 
and inquiry, and is totally unaffected by these acts; otherwise it 
would not be fixed and unchangeable. This negative condition, 
that the processes of search, investigation, reflection, involved 
in knowledge relate to something having prior being, fixes once 
for all the main characters attributed to mind, and to the organs 
of knowing. They must be outside what is known, so as not to 
interact in any way with the object to be known. If the word 
"interaction" be used, it cannot denote that overt production of 
change it signifies in its ordinary and practical use. 

The theory of knowing is modelled after what was supposed 
to take place in the act of vision. The object refracts light 
to the eye and is seen ; it makes a difference to the eye and to 
the person having an optical apparatus, but none to the thing 
seen. The real object is the object so fixed in its regal aloofness 
that it is a king to any beholding mind that may gaze upon it. 
A spectator theory of knowledge is the inevitable outcome. 
There have been theories which hold that mental activity inter- 
venes, but they have retained the old premise. They have there- 
fore concluded that it is impossible to know reality. Since mind 
intervenes, we know, according to them, only some modified 
semblance of the real object, some "appearance". It would be 
hard to find a more thoroughgoing confirmation than this con- 
clusion provides of the complete hold possessed by the belief 
that the object of knowledge is a reality fixed and complete in 
itself, in isolation from an act of inquiry which has in it any 
element of production of change. 

All of these notions about certainty and the fixed, about 
the nature of the real world, about the nature of the mind and 
its organs of knowing, are completely bound up with one 
another, and their consequences ramify into practically all im- 
portant ideas entertained upon any philosophic question. They 


all flow such is my basic thesis from the separation (set up 
in the interest of the quest for absolute certainty) between 
theory and practice, knowledge and actions. Consequently the 
later problem cannot be attacked in isolation, by itself. It is too 
thoroughly entangled with fundamental beliefs and ideas in 
all sorts of fields. 

In later chapters the theme will, therefore, be approached in 
relation to each of the above-mentioned points. We shall first 
take up the effect of the traditional separation upon the concep- 
tion of the nature of philosophy, especially in connection with 
the question of the secure place of values in existence. We shall 
then pass on to an account of the way in which modern philo- 
sophies have been dominated by the problem of reconciling the 
conclusions of natural science with the objective validity of the 
values by which men live and regulate their conduct: a 
problem which would have no existence were it not for the 
prior uncritical acceptance of the traditional notion that know- 
ledge has a monopolistic claim to access to reality. The dis- 
cussion will then take up various phases of the development of 
actual knowing as exemplified in scientific procedure, so as to 
show, by an analysis of experimental inquiry in its various 
phases, how completely the traditional assumptions, mentioned 
above, have been abandoned in concrete scientific procedure. 
For science in becoming experimental has itself become a mode 
of directed practical doing. There will then follow a brief state- 
ment of the effect of the destruction of the barriers which have 
divided theory and practice upon reconstruction of the basic 
ideas about mind and thought, and upon the solution of a 
number of long-standing problems as to the theory of know- 
ledge. The consequences of substituting search for security by 
practical means for quest of absolute certainty by cognitive 
means will then be considered in its bearing upon the problem 
of our judgments regarding the values which control conduct, 
especially its social phases. 


IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, we noted incidentally the distinction 
made in the classic tradition between knowledge and belief, or, 
as Locke put it, between knowledge and judgment. According 
to this distinction the certain and knowledge are co-extensive. 
Disputes exist, but they are whether sensation or reason affords 
the basis of certainty; or whether existence or essence is its 
object. In contrast with this identification, the very word 
" belief" is eloquent on the topic of certainty. We believe in the 
absence of knowledge or complete assurance. Hence the quest 
for certainty has always been an effort to transcend belief. Now 
since, as we have already noted, all matters of practical action 
involve an element of uncertainty, we can ascend from belief 
to knowledge only by isolating the latter from practical doing 
and making. 

In this chapter we are especially concerned with the effect 
of the ideal of certainty as something superior to belief upon 
the conception of the nature and function of philosophy. Greek 
thinkers saw clearly and logically that experience cannot 
furnish us, as respects cognition of existence, with anything 
more than contingent probability. Experience cannot deliver to 
us necessary truths; truths completely demonstrated by reason. 
Its conclusions are particular, not universal. Not being " exact" 
they come short of "science". Thus there arose the dis- 
tinction between rational truths or, in modern terminology, 
truths relating to the relation of ideas, and "truths" about 
matters of existence, empirically ascertained. Thus not merely 
the arts of practice, industrial and social, were stamped 
matters of belief rather than of knowledge, but also all 
those sciences which are matters of inductive inference from 
- One might indulge in the reflection that they are none the 


worse for all that, especially since the natural sciences have 
developed a technique for achieving a high degree of prob- 
ability and for measuring, within assignable limits, the amount 
of probability which attaches in particular cases to conclusions. 
But historically the matter is not so simple as to permit of this 
retort. For empirical or observational sciences were placed in 
invidious contrast to rational sciences which dealt with eternal 
and universal objects and which therefore were possessed of 
necessary truth. Consequently all observational sciences as far 
as their material could not be subsumed under forms and prin- 
ciples supplied by rational science shared in the depreciatory 
view held about practical affairs. They are relatively low, 
secular and profane compared with the perfect realities of 
rational science. 

And here is a justification for going back to something as 
remote in time as Greek philosophy. The whole classic tradi- 
tion down to our day has continued to hold a slighting view of 
experience as such, and to hold up as the proper goal and ideal 
of true knowledge realities which even if they are located in 
empirical things cannot be known by experimental methods. 
The logical consequence for philosophy itself is evident. Upon 
the side of method, it has been compelled to claim for itself the 
possession of a method issuing from reason itself, and having 
the warrant of reason, independently of experience. As long as 
the view obtained that nature itself is truly known by the same 
rational method, the consequences at least those which were 
evident were not serious. There was no break between 
philosophy and genuine science or what was conceived to be 
such. In fact, there was not even a distinction; there were 
simply various branches of philosophy, metaphysical, logical, 
natural, moral, etc., in a descending scale of demonstrative cer- 
tainty. Since, according to the theory, the subject-matter of the 
lower sciences was inherently of a different character from that 
of true knowledge, there was no ground for rational dissatis- 
faction with the lower degree of knowledge called belief. 


Inferior knowledge or belief corresponded to the inferior state 
of subject-matter. 

The scientific revolution of the seventeenth century effected 
a great modification. Science itself through the aid of mathe- 
matics carried the scheme of demonstrative knowledge over to 
natural objects. The "laws" of the natural world had that 
fixed character which in the older scheme had belonged only to 
rational and ideal forms. A mathematical science of nature 
couched in mechanistic terms claimed to be the only sound 
natural philosophy. Hence the older philosophies lost alliance 
with natural knowledge and the support that had been given 
to philosophy by them. Philosophy in maintaining its claim to 
be a superior form of knowledge was compelled to take an 
invidious and so to say malicious attitude toward the conclusions 
of natural science. The framework of the old tradition had in 
the meantime become embedded in Christian theology, and 
through religious teaching was made a part of the inherited 
culture of those innocent of any technical philosophy. Conse- 
quently, the rivalry between philosophy and the new science, 
with respect to the claim to know reality, was converted in effect 
into a rivalry between the spiritual values guaranteed by the 
older philosophic tradition and the conclusions of natural 
knowledge. The more science advanced the more it seemed to 
encroach upon the special province of the territory over which 
philosophy had claimed jurisdiction. Thus philosophy in its 
classic form became a species of apologetic justification for 
belief in an ultimate reality in which the values which should 
regulate life and control conduct are securely enstated. 

There are undoubted disadvantages in the historic manner 
of approach to the problem which has been followed. It may 
readily be thought either that the Greek formulation which 
has been emphasized has no especial pertinency with respect 
to modern thought and especially to contemporary philosophy ; 
or that no philosophical statement is of any great importance 
for the mass of non-philosophic persons. Those interested in 


philosophy may object that the criticisms passed are directed 
if not at a man of straw at least to positions that have long 
since lost their actuality. Those not friendly to any form of 
philosophy may inquire what import they have for any except 
professed philosophers. 

The first type of objection will be dealt with somewhat in 
extenso in the succeeding chapter, in which I shall try to show 
how modern philosophies, in spite of their great diversity, have 
been concerned with problems of adjustment of the conclusions 
of modern science to the chief religious and moral tradition 
of the western world; together with the way in which these 
problems are connected with retention of the conception of the 
relation of knowledge to reality formulated in Greek thought. 
At the point in the discussion now reached, it suffices to point 
out that, in spite of great changes in detail, the notion of a 
separation between knowledge and action, theory and practice, 
has been perpetuated, and that the beliefs connected with action 
are taken to be uncertain and inferior in value compared with 
those inherently connected with objects of knowledge, so that 
the former are securely established only as they derived from 
the latter. Not the specific content of Greek thought is pertinent 
to present problems, but its insistence that security is measured 
by certainty of knowledge, while the latter is measured by 
adhesion to fixed and immutable objects, which therefore are 
independent of what men do in practical activity. 

The other objection is of a different sort. It comes from 
those who feel that not merely Greek philosophy but philosophy 
in any form is remote from all significant human concern. It 
is willing to admit or rather assert that it is presumptuous for 
philosophy to lay claim to knowledge of a higher order than 
that given by natural science, but it also holds that this 
is no great matter in any case except for professional philo- 

There would be force in this latter objection were it not 
that those who make it hold for the most part the same 


philosophy of certainty and its proper object that is held by 
philosophers, save in an inchoate form. They are not interested 
in the notion that philosophic thought is a special means of 
attaining this object and the certainty it affords, but they are 
far from holding, either explicitly or implicitly, that the arts 
of intelligently directed action are the means by which security 
of values is to be attained. With respect to certain ends and 
goods they accept this idea. But in thinking of these ends and 
values as material, as related to health, wealth, control of con- 
ditions for the sake of an inferior order of consequences, they 
retain the same division between a higher reality and a lower 
that is formulated in classic philosophy. They may be innocent 
of the vocabulary that speaks of reason, necessary truth, the 
universal, things in themselves and appearances. But they 
incline to believe that there is some other road than that of 
action, directed by knowledge, to achieve ultimate security of 
higher ideals and purposes. They think of practical action as 
necessary for practical utilities, but they mark off practical 
utilities from spiritual and ideal values. Philosophy did not 
originate the underlying division. It only gave intellectual 
formulation and justification to ideas that were operative in 
men's minds generally. And the elements of these ideas are 
as active in present culture as they ever were in the past. In- 
deed, through the diffusion of religious doctrines, the idea 
that ultimate values are a matter of special revelation and are 
to be embodied in life by special means radically different from 
the arts of action that deal with lower and lesser ends has been 
accentuated in the popular mind. 

Here is the point which is of general human import instead 
of concern merely to professional philosophers. What about 
the security of values, of the things which are admirable, 
honourable, to be approved of and striven for? It is probably 
in consequence of the derogatory view held of practice that 
the question of the secure place of values in human experience 
is so seldom raised in connection with the problem of the 


relation of knowledge and practice. But upon any view con- 
cerning the status of action, the scope of the latter cannot be 
restricted to self-seeking acts, nor to those of a prudential 
aspect, nor in general to things of expediency and what 
are often termed "utilitarian" affairs. The maintenance and 
diffusion of intellectual values, of moral excellencies, the 
aesthetically admirable, as well as the maintenance of order 
and decorum in human relations are dependent upon what 
men do. 

Whether because of the emphasis of traditional religion 
upon salvation of the personal soul or for some other reason, 
there is a tendency to restrict the ultimate scope of morals to 
the reflex effect of conduct on one's self. Even utilitarianism, 
with all its seeming independence of traditional theology and 
its emphasis upon the general good as the criterion for judging 
conduct, insisted in its hedonistic psychology upon private 
pleasure as the motive for action. The idea that the stable and 
expanding institution of all things that make life worth while 
throughout all human relationships is the real object of all 
intelligent conduct is depressed from view by the current con- 
ception of morals as a special kind of action chiefly concerned 
with either the virtues or the enjoyments of individuals in their 
personal capacities. In changed form, we still retain the notion 
of a division of activity into two kinds having very different 
worths. The result is the depreciated meaning that has come 
to be attached to the very meaning of the "practical" and the 
useful. Instead of being extended to cover all forms of action 
by means of which all the values of life are extended and 
rendered more secure, including the diffusion of the fine arts 
and the cultivation of taste, the processes of education and all 
activities which are concerned with rendering human relation- 
ships more significant and worthy, the meaning of "practical" 
is limited to matters of ease, comfort, riches, bodily security 
and police order, possibly health, etc., things which in their 
isolation from other goods can only lay claim to restricted and 



narrow value. In consequence, these subjects are handed over 
to technical sciences and arts; they are no concern of "higher" 
interests which feel that no matter what happens to inferior 
goods in the vicissitudes of natural existence, the highest values 
are immutable characters of the ultimately real. 

Our depreciatory attitude toward "practice" would be modi- 
fied if we habitually thought of it in its most liberal sense, and 
if we surrendered our customary dualism between two separate 
kinds of value, one intrinsically higher and one inherently 
lower. We should regard practice as the only means (other 
than accident) by which whatever is judged to be honourable, 
admirable, approvable can be kept in concrete experienceable 
existence. In this connection the entire import of "morals" 
would be transformed. How much of the tendency to ignore 
permanent objective consequences in differences made in 
natural and social relations; and how much of the emphasis 
upon personal and internal motives and dispositions irrespective 
of what they objectively produce and sustain, are products of 
the habitual depreciation of the worth of action in com- 
parison with forms of mental processes, of thought and 
sentiment, which make no objective difference in things them- 
selves ? 

It would be possible to argue (and, I think, with much 
justice) that failure to make action central in the search for 
such security as is humanly possible is a survival of the 
impotency of man in those stages of civilization when he had 
few means of regulating and utilizing the conditions upon 
which the occurrence of consequences depend. As long as man 
was unable by means of the arts of practice to direct the course 
of events, it was natural for him to seek an emotional substitute 
in the absence of actual certainty in the midst of a precarious 
and hazardous world, men cultivated all sorts of things that 
would give them the feeling of certainty. And it is possible 
that, when not carried to an illusory point, the cultivation of 
the feeling gave man courage and confidence and enabled him 


to carry the burdens of life mere successfully. But one could 
hardly seriously contend that this fact, if it be such, is one 
upon which to found a reasoned philosophy. 

It is to the conception of philosophy that we come back. 
No mode of action can, as we have insisted, give anything 
approaching absolute certitude ; it provides insurance but no 
assurance. Doing is always subject to peril, to the danger of 
frustration. When men began to reflect philosophically it 
seemed to them altogether too risky to leave the place of 
values at the mercy of acts the results of which are never sure. 
This precariousness might hold as far as empirical existence, 
existence in the sensible and phenomenal world, is concerned ; 
but this very uncertainty seemed to render it the more needful 
that ideal goods should be shown to have, by means of know- 
ledge of the most assured type, an indefeasible and inex- 
pugnable position in the realm of the ultimately real. So at 
least we may imagine men to have reasoned. And to-day many 
persons find a peculiar consolation in the face of the unstable 
and dubious presence of values in actual experience by project- 
ing a perfect form of good into a realm of essence, if not into 
a heaven beyond the earthly skies, wherein their authority, if 
not their existence, is wholly unshakeable. 

Instead of asking how far this process is of that compensa- 
tory kind with which recent psychology has made us familiar, 
we are inquiring into the effect upon philosophy. It will not be 
denied, I suppose, that the chief aim of those philosophies 
which I have called classical has been to show that the realities 
which are the objects of the highest and most necessary know- 
ledge are also endowed with the values which correspond to our 
best aspirations, admirations and approvals. That, one may say, 
is the very heart of all traditional philosophic idealisms. There 
is a pathos, having its own nobility, in philosophies which think 
it their proper office to give an intellectual or cognitive certifi- 
cation to the ontological reality of the highest values. It is 
difficult for men to see desire and choice set earnestly upon 


the good and yet being frustrated, without their imagining a 
realm in which the good has come completely to its own, and 
is identified with a Reality in which resides all ultimate power. 
The failure and frustration of actual life is then attributed 
to the fact that this world is finite and phenomenal, sensible 
rather than real, or to the weakness of our finite apprehension, 
which cannot see that the discrepancy between existence and 
value is merely seeming, and that a fuller vision would behold 
partial evil an element in complete good. Thus the office of 
philosophy is to project by dialectic, resting supposedly upon 
self-evident premises, a realm in which the object of com- 
pletest cognitive certitude is also one with the object of the 
heart's best aspiration. The fusion of the good and the true 
with unity and plenitude of Being thus becomes the goal of 
classic philosophy. 

The situation would strike us as a curious one were it not 
so familiar. Practical activity is dismissed to a world of low- 
grade reality. Desire is found only where something is lacking 
and hence its existence is a sign of imperfection of Being. Hence 
one must go to passionless reason to find perfect reality and 
complete certitude. But nevertheless the chief philosophic 
interest is to prove that the essential properties of the reality 
that is the object of pure knowledge are precisely those charac- 
teristics which have meaning in connection with affection, 
desire and choice. After degrading practical affairs in order 
to exalt knowledge, the chief task of knowledge turns out to 
be to demonstrate the absolutely assured and permanent reality 
of the values with which practical activity is concerned ! Can 
we fail to see the irony in a situation wherein desire and emotion 
are relegated to a position inferior in every way to that of 
knowledge, while at the same time the chief problem of that 
which is termed the highest and most perfect knowledge is 
taken to be the existence of evil that is, of desires errant and 
frustrated ? 

The contradiction involved, however, is much more than a 


purely intellectual one which if purely theoretical would be 
innocuously lacking in practical consequences. The thing which 
concerns all of us as human beings is precisely the greatest 
attainable security of values in concrete existence. The thought 
that the values which are unstable and wavering in the world 
in which we live are eternally secure in a higher realm (which 
reason demonstrates but which we cannot experience), that all 
the goods which are defeated here are triumphant there, may 
give consolation to the depressed. But it does not change the 
existential situation in the least. The separation that has been 
instituted between theory and practice, with its consequent 
substitution of cognitive quest for absolute assurance for prac- 
tical endeavour to make the existence of good more secure in 
experience, has had the effect of distracting attention and 
diverting energy from a task whose performance would yield 
definite results. 

The chief consideration in achieving concrete security of 
values lies in the perfecting of methods of action. Mere activity 
blind striving, gets nothing forward. Regulation of conditions 
upon which results depend is possible only by doing, yet 
only by doing which has intelligent direction, which takes 
cognizance of conditions, observes relations of sequence, and 
which plans and executes in the light of this knowledge. The 
notion that thought, apart from action, can warrant complete 
certitude as to the status of supreme good, makes no contri- 
bution to the central problem of development of intelligent 
methods of regulation. It rather depresses and deadens effort 
in that direction. That is the chief indictment to be brought 
against the classic philosophic tradition. Its import raises the 
question of the relation which action sustains to knowledge in 
fact, and whether the quest for certainty by other means than 
those of intelligent action does not mark a baneful diversion 
of thought from its proper office. It raises the question whether 
mankind has not now achieved a sufficient degree of control 
of methods of knowing and of the arts of practical action so 


that a radical change in our conceptions of knowledge and 
practice is rendered both possible and necessary. 

That knowing, as judged from the actual procedures of 
scientific inquiry, has completely abandoned in fact the tradi- 
tional separation of knowing and doing, that the experimental 
procedure is one that installs doing as the heart of knowing, 
is a theme that will occupy our attention in later chapters. 
What would happen to philosophy if it wholeheartedly made 
a similar surrender? What would be its office if it ceased 
to deal with the problem of reality and knowledge at large? 
In effect, its function would be to facilitate the fruitful 
interaction of our cognitive beliefs, our beliefs resting upon 
the most dependable methods of inquiry, with our practical 
beliefs about the values, the ends and purposes, that should 
control human action in the things of large and liberal human 

Such a view renounces the traditional notion that action is 
inherently inferior to knowledge and preference for the fixed 
over the changing; it involves the conviction that security 
attained by active control is to be more prized than certainty 
in theory. But it does not imply that action is higher and better 
than knowledge, and practice inherently superior to thought. 
Constant and effective interaction of knowledge and practice 
is something quite different from an exaltation of activity for 
its own sake. Action, when directed by knowledge, is method 
and means, not an end. The aim and end is the securer, freer 
and more widely shared embodiment of values in experience by 
means of that active control of objects which knowledge alone 
makes possible. 1 

From this point of view, the problem of philosophy con- 
cerns the interaction of our judgments about ends to be sought 

1 In reaction against the age-long depreciation of practice in behalf 
of contemplative knowledge, there is a temptation simply to turn 
things upside down. But the essence of pragmatic instrumentalism is to 
conceive of both knowledge and practice as means of making goods 


with knowledge of the means for achieving them. Just as in 
science the question of the advance of knowledge is the question 
of what to do, what experiments to perform, what apparatus to 
invent and use, what calculations to engage in, what branches 
of mathematics to employ or to perfect, so the problem of 
practice is what do we need to know, how shall we obtain that 
knowledge and how shall we apply it ? 

It is an easy and altogether too common a habit to confuse 
a personal division of labour with an isolation of function and 
meaning. Human beings as individuals tend to devote them- 
selves either to the practice of knowing or to the practice of 
a professional, business, social or aesthetic art. Each takes the 
other half of the circle for granted. Theorists and practitioners, 
however, often indulge in unseemly wrangles as to the im- 
portance of their respective tasks. Then the personal difference 
of callings is hypostatized and made into an intrinsic differ- 
ence between knowledge and practice. 

If one looks at the history of knowledge, it is plain that at 
the beginning men tried to know because they had to do so in 
order to live. In the absence of that organic guidance given by 
their structure to other animals, man had to find out what 
he was about, and he could find out only by studying the 
environment which constituted the means, obstacles and results 
of his behaviour. The desire for intellectual or cognitive under- 
standing had no meaning except as a means of obtaining greater 
security as to the issues of action. Moreover, even when after 
the coming of leisure some men were enabled to adopt know- 
ing as their special calling or profession, merely theoretical 
uncertainty continues to have no meaning. 

This statement will arouse protest. But the reaction against 
the statement will turn out when examined to be due to the 
fact that it is so difficult to find a case of purely intellectual 
uncertainty, that is one upon which nothing hangs. Perhaps 
as near to it as we can come is in the familiar story of the 
Oriental potentate who declined to attend a horse-race on the 


ground that it was already well known to him that one horse 
could run faster than another. His uncertainty as to which of 
several horses could outspeed the others may be said to have 
been purely intellectual. But also in the story nothing depended 
from it ; no curiosity was aroused ; no effort was put forth to 
satisfy the uncertainty. In other words, he did not care; it 
made no difference. And it is a strict truism that no one would 
care about any exclusively theoretical uncertainty or certainty. 
For by definition in being exclusively theoretical it is one which 
makes no difference anywhere. 

Revulsion against this proposition is a tribute to the fact 
that actually the intellectual and the practical are so closely 
bound together. Hence when we imagine we are thinking of 
an exclusively theoretical doubt, we smuggle in unconsciously 
some consequence which hangs upon it. We think of uncertainty 
arising in the course of an inquiry; in this case, uncertainty 
until it is resolved blocks the progress of the inquiry a dis- 
tinctly practical affair, since it involves conclusions and the 
means of producing them. If we had no desires and no pur- 
poses, then, as sheer truism, one state of things would be as 
good as any other. Those who have set such store by the 
demonstration that Absolute Being already contains in eternal 
safety within itself all values, have had as their interest the 
fact that while the demonstration would make no difference 
in the concrete existence of these values unless perhaps to 
weaken effort to generate and sustain them it would make 
a difference in their own personal attitudes in a feeling of 
comfort or of release from responsibility, the consciousness of 
a "moral holiday" in which some philosophers have found the 
distinction between morals and religion. 

Such considerations point to the conclusion that the ulti- 
mate ground of the quest for cognitive certainty is the need for 
security in the results of action. Men readily persuade them- 
selves that they are devoted to intellectual certainty for its own 
sake. Actually they want it because of its bearing on safeguard- 


ing what they desire and esteem. The need for protection and 
prosperity in action created the need for warranting the validity 
of intellectual beliefs. 

After a distinctively intellectual class had arisen, a class 
having leisure and in a large degree protected against the more 
serious perils which afflict the mass of humanity, its members 
proceeded to glorify their own office. Since no amount of pains 
and care in action can ensure complete certainty, certainty in 
knowledge was worshipped as a substitute. In minor matters, 
those that are relatively technical, professional, "utilitarian", 
men continued to resort to improving their methods of opera- 
tion in order to be surer of results. But in affairs of momentous 
value the requisite knowledge is hard to come by and the 
bettering of methods is a slow process to be realized only by 
the co-operative endeavour of many persons. The arts to be 
formed and developed are social arts ; an individual by himself 
can do little to regulate the conditions which will render im- 
portant values more secure, though with shrewdness and special 
knowledge he can do much to further his own peculiar aims 
given a fair share of luck. So because of impatience and 
because, as Aristotle was given to pointing out, an individual 
is self-sufficient in that kind of thinking which involves no 
action, the ideal of a cognitive certainty and truth having no 
connection with practice, and prized because of its lack of con- 
nection, developed. The doctrine worked out practically so as 
to strengthen dependence upon authority and dogma in the 
things of highest value, while increase of specialized know- 
ledge was relied upon in everyday, especially economic, affairs. 
Just as belief that a magical ceremony will regulate the growth 
of seeds to full harvest stifles the tendency to investigate 
natural causes and their workings, so acceptance of dogmatic 
rules as bases of conduct in education, morals and social 
matters, lessens the impetus to find out about the conditions 
which are involved in forming intelligent plans. 

It is more or less of a commonplace to speak of the crisis 


which has been caused by the progress of the natural sciences 
in the last few centuries. The crisis is due, it is asserted, to the 
incompatibility between the conclusions of natural science about 
the world in which we live and the realm of higher values, 
of ideal and spiritual qualities, which get no support from 
natural science. The new science, it is said, has stripped the 
world of the qualities which made it beautiful and congenial to 
men ; has deprived nature of all aspiration towards ends, all 
preference for accomplishing the good, and presented nature to 
us as a scene of indifferent physical particles acting according 
to mathematical and mechanical laws. 

This effect of modern science has, it is notorious, set the 
main problems for modern philosophy. How is science to be 
accepted and yet the realm of values to be conserved ? This 
question forms the philosophic version of the popular conflict 
of science and religion. Instead of being troubled about the 
inconsistency of astronomy with the older religious beliefs 
about heaven and the ascension of Christ, or the differences 
between the geological record and the account of creation in 
Genesis, philosophers have been troubled by the gap in kind 
which exists between the fundamental principles of the natural 
world and the reality of the values according to which mankind 
is to regulate its life. 

Philosophers, therefore, set to work to mediate, to find 
some harmony behind the apparent discord. Everybody knows 
that the trend of modern philosophy has been to arrive at 
theories regarding the nature of the universe by means of 
theories regarding the nature of knowledge a procedure 
which reverses the apparently more judicious method of the 
ancients in basing their conclusions about knowledge on the 
nature of the universe in which knowledge occurs. The "crisis" 
of which we have just been speaking accounts for the reversal. 

Since science has made the trouble, the cure ought to be 
found in an examination of the nature of knowledge, of the 
conditions which make science possible. If the conditions of 


the possibility of knowledge can be shown to be of an ideal 
and rational character, then, so it has been thought, the loss 
of an idealistic cosmology in physics can be readily borne. The 
physical world can be surrendered to matter and mechanism, 
since we are assured that matter and mechanism have their 
foundation in immaterial mind. Such has been the characteristic 
course of modern spiritualistic philosophies since the time of 
Kant; indeed, since that of Descartes, who first felt the poign- 
ancy of the problem involved in reconciling the conclusions of 
science with traditional religious and moral beliefs. 

It would presumably be taken as a sign of extreme naivet^, 
if not of callous insensitiveness, if one were to ask why all this 
ardour to reconcile the findings of natural science with the 
validity of values? Why should any increase of knowledge 
seem like a threat to what we prize, admire and approve? Why 
should we not proceed to employ our gains in science to im- 
prove our judgments about values, and to regulate our actions 
so as to make values more secure and more widely shared in 
existence ? 

I am willing to run the risk of charge of naivete for the 
sake of making manifest the difference upon which we have 
been dwelling. If men had associated their ideas about values 
with practical activity instead of with cognition of antecedent 
Being, they would not have been troubled by the findings of 
science. They would have welcomed the latter. For anything 
ascertained about the structure of actually existing conditions 
would be a definite aid in making judgments about things to 
be prized and striven for more adequate, and would instruct 
us as to the means to be employed in realizing them. But 
according to the religious and philosophic tradition of Europe, 
the valid status of all the highest values, the good, true and 
beautiful, was bound up with their being properties of ultimate 
and supreme Being, namely, God. All went well as long as 
what passed for natural science gave no offence to this concep- 
tion. Trouble began when science ceased to disclose in the 


objects of knowledge the possession of any such properties. 
Then some roundabout method had to be devised for sub- 
stantiating them. 

The point of the seemingly crass question which was asked 
is thus to elicit the radical difference made when the problem 
of values is seen to be connected with the problem of intelli- 
gent action. If the validity of beliefs and judgments about 
values is dependent upon the consequences of action undertaken 
in their behalf, if the assumed association of values with know- 
ledge capable of being demonstrated apart from activity is 
abandoned, then the problem of the intrinsic relation of science 
to value is wholly artificial. It is replaced by a group of prac- 
tical problems : How shall we employ what we know to direct 
the formation of our beliefs about value and how shall we 
direct our practical behaviour so as to test these beliefs and 
make possible better ones? The question is seen to be just 
what it has always been empirically: What shall we do to 
make objects having value more secure in existence? And we 
approach the answer to the problem with all the advantages 
given us by increase of knowledge of the conditions and 
relations under which this doing must proceed. 

But for over two thousand years the weight of the most 
influential and authoritatively orthodox tradition of thought 
has been thrown into the opposite scale. It has been devoted 
to the problem of a purely cognitive certification (perhaps by 
revelation, perhaps by intuition, perhaps by reason) of the 
antecedent immutable reality of truth, beauty and goodness. 
As against such a doctrine, the conclusions of natural science 
constitute the materials of a serious problem. The appeal has 
been made to the Court of Knowledge and the verdict has 
been adverse. There are two rival systems that must have their 
respective claims adjusted. The crisis in contemporary culture, 
the confusions and conflicts in it, arise from a division of 
authority. Scientific inquiry seems to tell one thing, and tra- 
ditional beliefs about ends and ideals that have authority over 


conduct tell us something quite different. The problem of 
reconciliation arises and persists for one reason only. As long 
as the notions persist that knowledge is a disclosure of reality, 
of reality prior to and independent of knowing, and that know- 
ing is independent of a purpose to control the quality of 
experienced objects, the failure of natural science to disclose 
significant values in its objects will come as a shock. Those 
seriously concerned with the validity and authority of value 
will have a problem on their hands. As long as the notion per- 
sists that values are authentic and valid only on condition that 
they are properties of Being independent of human action, 
as long as it is supposed that their right to regulate action is 
dependent upon their being independent of action, so long 
there will be needed schemes to prove that values are, in 
spite of the findings of science, genuine and known qualifica- 
tions of reality in itself. For men will not easily surrender 
all regulative guidance in action. If they are forbidden to find 
standards in the course of experience they will seek them some- 
where else, if not in revelation, then in the deliverance of a 
reason that is above experience. 

This then is the fundamental issue for present philosophy. 
Is the doctrine justified that knowledge is valid in the degree 
in which it is a revelation of antecedent existences or Being? 
Is the doctrine justified that regulative ends and purposes have 
validity only when they can be shown to be properties belong- 
ing to things, whether as existences or as essences, apart from 
human action? It is proposed to make another start. Desires, 
affections, preferences, needs and interests at least exist in 
human experience; they are characteristics of it. Knowledge 
about nature also exists. What does this knowledge imply and 
entail with respect to the guidance of our emotional and 
volitional life ? How shall the latter lay hold of what is known 
in order to make it of service ? 

These latter questions do not seem to many thinkers to 
have the dignity that is attached to the traditional problems of 


philosophy. They are proximate questions, not ultimate. They 
do not concern Being and Knowledge "in themselves" and at 
large, but the state of existence at specified times and places 
and the state of affection, plans and purposes under concrete 
circumstances. They are not concerned with framing a general 
theory of reality, knowledge and value once for all, but with 
finding how authentic beliefs about existence as they currently 
exist can operate fruitfully and efficaciously in connection with 
the practical problems that are urgent in actual life. 

In restricted and technical fields, men now proceed un- 
hesitatingly along these lines. In technology and the arts of 
engineering and medicine, men do not think of operating in 
any other way. Increased knowledge of nature and its con- 
ditions does not raise the problem of validity of the value of 
health or of communication in general, although it may well 
make dubious the validity of certain conceptions men in the 
past have entertained about the nature of health and com- 
munication and the best ways of attaining these goods in fact. 

In such matters, science has placed in our hands the means 
by which we can better judge our wants, and has aided in form- 
ing the instruments and operations by which to satisfy them. 
That the same sort of thing has not happened in the moral 
and distinctly humane arts is evident. Here is a problem which 
might well trouble philosophers. 

Why have not the arts which deal with the wider, more 
generous, more distinctly humane values enjoyed the release 
and expansion which have accrued to the technical arts? Can 
it be seriously urged that it is because natural science has dis- 
closed to us the kind of world which it has disclosed? It is 
easy to see that these disclosures are hostile to some beliefs 
about values which have been widely accepted, which have 
prestige, which have become deeply impregnated with senti- 
ment, and which authoritative institutions as well as the 
emotion and inertia of men are slow to surrender. But this ad- 
mission, which practically enforces itself, is far from excluding 


the formation of new beliefs about things to be honoured 
and prized by men in their supreme loyalties of action. The 
difficulty in the road is a practical one, a social one, connected 
with institutions and the methods and aims of education, not 
with science nor with value. Under such circumstances the first 
problem for philosophy would seem to be to clear itself -of 
further responsibility for the doctrine that the supreme issue 
is whether values have antecedent Being, while its further 
office is to make clear the revisions and reconstructions that 
have to be made in traditional judgments about values. Having 
done this, it would be in a position to undertake the more 
positive task of projecting ideas about values which might be 
the basis of a new integration of human conduct. 

We come back to the fact that the genuine issue is not 
whether certain values, associated with traditions and institu- 
tions, have Being already (whether that of existence or of 
essence), but what concrete judgments we are to form about 
ends and means in the regulation of practical behaviour. The 
emphasis which has been put upon the former question, the 
creation of dogmas about the way in which values are already 
real independently of what we do, dogmas which have appealed 
not in vain to philosophy for support, have naturally bred, 
in the face of the changed character of science, confusion, 
irresolution and numbness of will. If men had been educated 
to think about broader humane values as they have now 
learned to think about matters which fall within the scope of 
technical arts, our whole present situation would be very 
different. The attention which has gone to achieving a purely 
theoretical certainty with respect to them would have been 
devoted to perfecting the arts by which they are to be judged 
and striven for. 

Indulge for a moment in an imaginative flight. Suppose 
that men had been systematically educated in the belief that 
the existence of values can cease to be accidental, narrow and 
precarious only by human activity directed by the best available 


knowledge. Suppose also men had been systematically educated 
to believe that the important thing is not to get themselves 
personally "right" in relation to the antecedent author and 
guarantor of these values, but to form their judgments and 
carry on their activity on the basis of public, objective and 
shared consequences. Imagine these things and then imagine 
what the present situation might be. 

The suppositions are speculative. But they serve to indicate 
the significance of the one point to which this chapter is 
devoted. The method and conclusions of science have without 
doubt invaded many cherished beliefs about the things held 
most dear. The resulting clash constitutes a genuine cultural 
crisis. But it is a crisis in culture, a social crisis, historical and 
temporal in character. It is not a problem in the adjustment of 
properties of reality to one another. And yet modern philo- 
sophy has chosen for the most part to treat it as a question of 
how the realities assumed to be the object of science can have 
the mathematical and mechanistic properties assigned to them 
in natural science, while nevertheless the realm of ultimate 
reality can be characterized by qualities termed ideal and 
spiritual. The cultural problem is one of definite criticisms to 
be made and of readjustments to be accomplished. Philosophy 
which is willing to abandon its supposed task of knowing 
ultimate reality and to devote itself to a proximate human 
office might be of great help in such a task. It may be doubted 
whether it can indefinitely pursue the task of trying to show 
that the results of science when they are properly interpreted 
do not mean what they seem to say, or of proving, by means 
of an examination of possibilities and limits of knowledge, that 
after all they rest upon a foundation congruous with traditional 
beliefs about values. 

Since the root of the traditional conception of philosophy 
is the separation that has been made between knowledge and 
action, between theory and practice, it is to the problem of this 
separation that we are to give attention. Our main attempt 


will be to show how the actual procedures of knowledge, 
interpreted after the pattern formed by experimental inquiry, 
cancel the isolation of knowledge from overt action. Before 
engaging in this attempt, we shall in the next chapter show 
the extent to which modern philosophy has been dominated 
by effort to adjust to each other two systems of belief, one 
relating to the objects of knowledge and the other to objects 
of ideal value. 


IT is THE THEME of the present chapter that modern philosophy, 
understanding by this term that which has been influenced 
by the rise of the newer natural science, has contained within 
itself an inner division. It has tried to combine acceptance of 
the conclusions of scientific inquiry as to the natural world 
with acceptance of doctrines about the nature of mind and 
knowledge which originated before there was such a thing as 
systematic experimental inquiry. Between the two there is an 
inherent incompatibility. Hence the best efforts of philosophy 
have been constantly frustrated by artificiality and by contro- 
versial conflicts. Of all the many artificial problems which 
philosophy has thereby inflicted upon itself, we are here con- 
cerned with but one, the one with which the last chapter was 
concerned in a general way. This is the supposed need of 
reconciling, of somehow adjusting, the findings of scientific 
knowledge with the validity of ideas concerning value. 

For obvious reasons, Greek thought, from which stem 
the philosophic conceptions about the nature of knowledge as 
the sole valid grasp or vision of reality, did not have this 
problem. Its physics were in complete harmony with its meta- 
physics, and the latter were teleological and qualitative. Natural 
objects themselves tend, throughout their changes, toward ideal 
ends that are the final objects of highest knowledge. A science 
of natural changes is possible only because of this fact. The 
natural world is knowable in as far as its changes are dominated 
by forms or essences that are immutable, complete or perfect. 
In aspiring to actualize these prior and perfect forms, natural 
phenomena present characters in virtue of which they may be 
known, that is, defined and classified. Moreover, these ideal 
forms form reason in its full and perfect actuality of Being. 
To know them is to enjoy communion with perfect Being: and 


thus to enjoy the highest happiness. For man as a rational and 
yet natural being strives also to realize his end, and this reali- 
zation is identical with apprehension of true and immutable 
Being. In this apprehension, man rises above the mutabilities 
of the natural world and comes into possession of a perfection 
which is incapable of lack and deprivation. Pure rationality is 
in its purity above physical nature. But in his essential being, 
his rationality, man is himself above nature. The reality which 
satisfies the quest for cognitive certitude thus also affords the 
unqualified possession of perfect good. 

vThe need of adjustment of the results of knowledge and 
the apprehension and enjoyment of the highest good came 
when, in the seventeenth century, new methods of inquiry 
gave an entirely new turn to the conceptions which could be 
entertained about the natural world. 

Very early in its history, modern science asserted that the 
teleology of Greek science was a futile and mischievous en- 
cumbrance, wholly mistaken in its idea of the goal and method 
of scientific inquiry, and putting mind on the wrong trackyj It 
repudiated the doctrine of ideal forms, rejecting them as 
"occult". As the new scientific method progressed, it became 
increasingly clear that the material of knowledge, provided one 
took science as the model form of knowledge, gave no justifi- 
cation for attributing to the objects of cognitive certainty 
those perfections which in Greek science had been their essen- 
tial properties. At the same time, there was no disposition to 
break away from the tradition according to which the valid 
status of values must be determined by knowledge. (Hence the 
crucial problem which modern philosophy found forced upon 
it, in as far as it accepted the conclusions of the new science 
while it also retained three significant elements of ancient 
thought: the first, that certainty, security, can be found only in 
the fixed and unchanging; the second, that knowledge is the 
only road to that which is intrinsically stable and certain; the 
third, that practical activity is an inferior sort of thing, necessary 


simply because of man's animal nature and the necessity for 
winning subsistence from the environment. 

In one significant respect, moreover, modern thought 
started with accentuation of the gulf between the values which 
are intrinsic to the real and hence are not dependent upon 
action, and those goods which, being merely instrumental, are 
the objects of practical activity. For Greek thought never made 
a sharp separation between the rational and perfect realm and 
the natural world. The latter was indeed inferior and infected 
with non-being or privation. But it did not stand in any sharp 
dualism to the higher and perfect reality. Greek thinking 
accepted the senses, the body and nature with natural piety 
and found in nature a hierarchy of forms leading degree by 
degree to the divine. The soul was the realized actuality of the 
body, as reason was the transcendent realization of the intima- 
tion of ideal forms contained in the soul. The senses included 
within themselves forms which needed only to be stripped of 
their material accretions to be true stepping-stones to higher 

Modern philosophy inherited the framework of Greek 
ideas about the nature of knowledge although rejecting its 
conclusions about natural objects. But it inherited them through 
the medium of Hebraic and Christian religion. The natural 
world in this tradition was fallen and corrupt. With the Greeks 
the element of rationality was supreme and the good came 
into human possession by the realized development of reason. 
The intervening religious development made the ethical more 
fundamental than the rational. The most significant issues con- 
cerned the relation of will, rather than intellect, to supreme 
and perfect Being. Thus there was effected a reversal of per- 
spective as to the relations in perfect Being of the properties 
in virtue of which it is respectively an object of true knowledge 
and of perfect good and bliss. Righteousness, in accordance 
with the Hebraic factors adopted into Christian theology, was 
primary, and strictly intellectual properties were subordinate, 


The participation of the mind in perfect being could not be 
attained by intellect until the intellect was itself morally 
redeemed and purified. The difference between the pure Greek 
tradition and the Christian is brought out in some words of 
Cardinal Newman. "The Church holds that it were better for 
sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fall, and 
for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation 
in extremest agony rather than that one soul should commit 
one venial sin." 

In saying that modern philosophy inherited the Greek 
tradition as passed through this intervening medium of Christ- 
ian thought, I do not mean to say that all features of the 
Christian view of nature in relation to God and the fall of 
man were taken over. On the contrary, distinctively modern 
thought is marked by a revival of the Greek interest and 
delight in nature and natural observation. Thinkers deeply 
influenced by modern science often ceased to believe in divine 
revelation as supreme authority and adhered to natural reason 
in its place. Uu^the supreme place of good as a defining pro- 
perty of the ultimately real remained the common premise of 
Jew, Catholic and Protestant. If not vouched for by revelation, 
it was warranted by the "natural light" of intellect. This phase 
of the religious tradition- was so deeply ingrained in European 
culture that no philosopher except the thoroughgoing sceptics 
escaped its influence. In this sense modern philosophy began 
its career with an accentuation of the gap which exists between 
ultimate and eternal values and natural objects and goods. 

Thinkers who remained within the framework of the classic 
tradition held that the moral perfection which is the inherent 
property of ultimate Being prescribes the law of human action. 
It constitutes the norm of all significant and enduring values. 
Reason is necessary to furnish the foundation of truths 
without which observations or experience in general cannot 
be constituted a science. But it is even more necessary to 
provide for the apprehension of the ultimate and immutable 


end and law of moral action. When the hierarchical ascent of 
nature to mind and to ideal forms was disturbed by the con- 
viction that the subject-matter of natural science is exclusively 
physical and mechanistic, there arose the dualistic opposition 
3f matter and spirit, of nature and ultimate ends and goods. 

Qualities, excellencies and ends that were extruded from 
nature by the new science found their exclusive abode and 
warrant in the realm of the spiritual, which was above nature 
and yet which was its source and foundation. The function of 
reason in determination and enjoyment of the good no longer 
formed the consummation of nature. It had a distinct and 
separate office. The tension created by the opposition and yet 
necessary connection of nature and spirit gave rise to all the 
characteristic problems of modern philosophy. It could neither 
be frankly naturalistic, nor yet fully spiritualistic to the dis- 
regard of the conclusions of physical science. Since man was 
on one hand a part of nature and on the other hand a member 
of the realm of spirit, all problems came to a focus in his double 

The philosophy of Spinoza is noteworthy for its frank 
statement of this problem and for the uniquely thoroughgoing 
way in which, given its terms, it was solved. An unqualified 
naturalism in the sense in which he understood the new science 
was combined by a miracle of logic with an equally complete 
acceptance of the idea, derived from the religious tradition, 
that ultimate reality is the measure of perfection and the norm 
for human activity. The union thus effected is so complete as 
to afford a pattern of instruction regarding the problem of 
modern thought. In him, more than in any modern thinker, 
there are exhibited complete loyalty to the essential element 
in the Hebraic tradition ultimate and self-sufficing Being as 
the standard of all human thought and action with perpetua- 
tion of the Greek theory of knowledge and its exaltation of 
reason over experience, together with enthusiastic adherence 
to the new scientific view of nature. Thus he thought to obtain 


from the very heart of the new science a conclusive demonstra- 
tion of the perfection of Being through which the human soul 
can alone obtain absolute security and peace. A scientific com- 
prehension was to give, in full reality, by rational means, that 
assurance and regulation of life that non-rational religions had 
pretended to give. 

In his unfinished essay on the The Improvement of the 
Human Understanding, he frankly states his impelling motive. 
He had experienced, he says, that everything in the ordinary 
course of experience is empty and futile. In desperation he set 
himself to inquiring whether there is not a good capable of 
communicating itself, a good so assured and complete that 
the mind can adhere to it to the exclusion of all else : a good 
which when found and taken possession of would give him 
eternally a constant and supreme bliss. For he had discovered 
that the cause of the perturbations and vanities of life was that 
affection and desire were fixed upon things which perish. But 
"love directed toward that which is eternal and infinite feeds 
the mind wholly with joy unmixed with any sadness. . . . 
The true good of man is that he should attain, together with 
others if possible, to a knowledge of the union which the mind 
has with Nature as a whole." He concludes, "I wish to direct 
all the sciences to this one end and scope in order that we may 
attain to such perfection". 

Certain, enduring and unalloyed Good through the union 
of mind with the whole of nature is the theme developed in 
detail in the Ethics. There results a philosophy which unites 
the Greek idea that man's highest good is demonstrative 
rational knowledge of immutable Being; the Hebrew and Christ- 
ian conviction that the soul is capable of a way of life which 
secures constant and pure blessedness, and the premises and 
method of the new science, as he saw the latter. Nature was 
completely intelligible ; it was at one with mind ; to apprehend 
nature as a whole was to attain a cognitive certainty which 
also afforded a complete certainty; of good for the purpose of 


control of appetite, desire and affection this latter specification 
being one which Greek thought did not include and which 
it doubtless would have thought the height of presumption to 
lay claim to. Right ordering of human conduct, knowledge of 
the highest reality, the enjoyment of the most complete and 
unvarying value or good, were combined in one inclusive whole 
by means of adoption of the ideas of the complete interdepen- 
dence of all things according to universal and necessary law 
an idea which he found to be the basis of natural science. 

There have been few attempts in modern philosophy as 
bold and as direct as is this one to effect a complete integration 
of scientific method with a good which is fixed and final, because 
based on the rock of absolute cognitive certainty. Few thinkers 
have been as willing to sacrifice details of the older tradition 
in order to save its substance as was Spinoza. The outcry from 
all quarters against him proved that, in the minds of his con- 
temporaries and successors, he had made too many concessions 
to naturalistic science and necessary law. But this protest should 
not conceal from us two essential considerations about his work. 
The first of these is that Nature, as the object of knowledge,, 
is capable of being the source of constant good and a rule of 
life, and thus has all the properties and the functions which 
the Jewish- Christian tradition attributed to God. He was hence 
entitled to confer upon it the name Natura sive Deus. For 
Nature, as he conceived it, carried with it all the emotional 
associations and all the moral force and authority found in the 
older religious view of God. It provided an immutable End and 
Law for conduct, and it was the source, when rationally known, 
of perfect peace and unqualified security. Nature was naturally 
that is rationally known, and knowledge of it was such a 
perfect good that when it takes possession of the human mind 
the lesser and otherwise disturbing objects of affection and 
passion are so included within it as to fall into their proper 
place of subordination : that is, of complete control. 

The second consideration is that Spinoza exemplifies with 


extraordinary completeness the nature of the problem of all 
modern philosophies which have not deserted the classic tra- 
dition, and yet have made the conclusions of modern science 
their own. What makes Spinoza so admirably the exponent of 
this problem is that he adopted with ardour and without the 
reservations displayed by most modern thinkers the essential 
elements in the Greek tradition of intellectualism and natural- 
ism, the Hebrew-Christian idea of the priority and primacy of 
the properties of ultimate Being which concern the control of 
human affection and endeavour, and the method and conclusions 
of the new natural science as he saw them. 

The reluctance of other thinkers to follow the model of 
solution of their common problems which he offered was not, 
however, wholly due to their desire to save portions of the 
older moral and religious tradition that he was willing to sur- 
render for what seemed to him a greater and more enduring 
good the unification of science with an ethico-religious con- 
trol of the springs of human conduct. There were difficulties 
from the side of science itself. Its experimental trend, as dis- 
tinct from its mathematical strain, was adverse to Spinoza's 
unquestioning faith that the logical order and connection of 
ideas is one with the order and connection of existence. For 
as the new science developed, the experimental necessity for 
sense data and verification by observation reduced the role of 
logical and mathematical conceptions from a primary to a 
secondary rank. Even his predecessor Descartes, also a devotee 
of rationalistic method, had seen that there had to be some 
warrant for the application of ideas to nature. Other philoso- 
phers felt that after all the perfections with which Spinoza 
had so richly dowered Nature as the object of knowledge, were, 
in spite of his professed denial of teleology, the fruit of 
emotion rather than of logic. 

We do not need to trace these complications. They are 
important for our purpose because they induced so many varia- 
tions in the treatment of a single underlying problem: the 


adjustment to each other of two unquestioned convictions : One 
that knowledge in the form of science reveals the antecedent 
properties of reality; the other, that the ends and laws which 
should regulate human affection, desire and intent can be 
derived only from the properties possessed by ultimate Being 
If the rest of the chapter is given to a brief survey of the 
diverse methods of adjustment which have been propounded 
it is not for the sake of conveying information upon matters 
familiar to all students of philosophy. I am concerned only tc 
set forth illustrations of the way in which unyielding adherence 
to traditional premises regarding the object of true knowledge 
and the source of moral authority have set the problem oi 
modern thought, and to provide illustration of the diverse 
and incompatible ways in which "solutions" have been sought, 
Before the rise of the new science of nature there was 
developed a method for adjusting the claims of natural reason 
and moral authority by means of a division of the field: the 
doctrine of "the twofold nature of truth". The realm of 
the ends and values authoritative for conduct was that of the 
revealed will of God. The organ for its apprehension was 
faith. Nature is the object of knowledge and with respect to it 
the claims of reason are supreme. The two realms are so 
separate that no conflict can occur. The work of Kant may be 
regarded as a perpetuation of the method of adjustment by 
means of partition of territories. He did not of course demar- 
cate the realm of moral authority on the ground of faith 
in revelation. He substituted the idea of faith grounded in 
practical reason. But he continued the older distinction of one 
realm where the intellect has sway and one in which the 
requirements of will are supreme. He retained also the notion 
of an isolation of the two fields so complete that there is no 
possible overlapping and hence no possibility of interference. 
If the kingdoms of science and of righteousness nowhere touch, 
there can be no strife between them. Indeed, Kant sought to 
arrange their relations or lack of relations in such a way that 


there should be not merely non-interference but a pact of at 
least benevolent neutrality. 

Kant's system bristles with points of internal difficulty; 
many of these are objects of controversy. Ignoring these as 
irrelevant to our problem, it can fairly be asserted that the 
main characteristic of his system is precisely a division of terri- 
tory between the objects of cognitive certitude and those of 
equally complete practical moral assurance. The titles of his 
two chief works, the Critiques of Pure Reason and of Practical 
Reason are memorials to this interpretation. The first aims 
to make secure, on rational a priori grounds, the foundations 
of natural knowledge; the second performs a like office for 
the foundations of moral and religious conceptions. Science 
is limited to phenomena in space and time in order that the 
world of higher and noumenal realities may be appropriated 
by ideals and spiritual values. Each has complete jurisdiction 
and undisputed sovereignty in its own realm. 

Heine's view that the subject-matter of the practical 
critique was an afterthought, a concession to the needs and fears 
of the multitude represented by his manservant, is wittily ex- 
pressed, but will not stand critical examination. Kant's argu- 
ment for the justification of the certitude of the foundations of 
knowledge is couched at every point so as to indicate the neces- 
sity of a higher although intellectually unapproachable realm. 
There was nothing factitious, in Kant's own conception, in the 
way in which the two kingdoms excluded each other and yet 
made each other necessary. On the contrary, the neat way in 
which the elements of each dovetailed into those of the other 
was to him a convincing proof of the necessity of the system 
as a whole. If the dovetailing was the product of his own 
intellectual carpentry, he had no suspicion of the fact. 

On the contrary, he thought he had disposed, once for all, 
of many of the most perplexing problems of prior philosophy. 
Upon the scientific side he was concerned to provide a final 
philosophical justification, beyond the reach of scepticism, for 


the Newtonian science. His conception of space and time as 
necessary forms of the possibility of perception was the 
justification of the application of mathematics to natural 
phenomena. Categories of thought necessary to understand 
perceived objects an understanding necessary to science 
supplied the foundation of permanent substances and uniform 
relations of sequence or causation demanded by the New- 
tonian theories of atoms and uniform laws. The tendency of 
the mind to pass beyond the limits of experience to the thought 
of unconditioned and self-sufficient totalities, "Ideas'* of the 
universe, soul and God, was explained; and while cognitive 
validity was denied these Ideas, they were admitted as regu- 
lative ideals which directed inquiry and interpretation. Above 
all, the thought of these trans-phenomenal and super-empirical 
realities left room that practical reason with its imperative 
of duty and postulate of free choice could fill. Thus the su- 
premacy of righteousness according to the Hebraic-Christian 
tradition was justified independently of revelation by purely 
rational means. Moral demand for the final and unquestionable 
authority of duty authorized and necessitated practical certainty 
as to the reality of objects beyond experience and incapable of 
cognitive verification. The quest for certainty was fulfilled; 
cognitive certainty in the region of phenomena, practical 
certainty in the realm of moral authority. 

This outline of obvious points in Kant's system passes over 
points which have received much attention such as the "sub- 
jectivity" of his view of space and time and the categories; the 
contrast of the a priori and the empirical, as well as, in the 
Critique of Practical Reason, the seemingly arbitrary way in 
which faith in God and immortality are introduced. But with 
reference to his ultimate aim of establishing a perfect and 
unshakeable adjustment of the certainty of intellectual beliefs 
and of moral beliefs, these matters are secondary. The point 
3n the practical side that had to be protected at all hazards 
was that no concrete and empirical material be permitted to 


influence ultimate moral realities since this would give natural 
science jurisdiction over them and bring them under the sway 
of mechanical causality. On the cognitive side, the correspond- 
ing point to be certified was restriction of natural science to a 
strictly phenomenal world. For then there could be no en- 
croachment of specific scientific conclusions upon ultimate, 
that is ethico-religious, belief. 

In its essential framework, the Kantian scheme thus agreed 
marvellously well with the needs of the historic crisis. It gave 
freedom and a blessing to both science and morals, with a 
guarantee that they could never interfere with each other. 
Granted the acceptance of the traditional belief that security 
of moral authority depends upon some source in Being apart 
from the experiences by which values are incarnated in concrete 
objects and institutions, the Kantian scheme has such merits 
that it is safe to predict that as long as that tradition continues 
to have vitality, the main elements of the Kantian system will 
have devoted disciples. 

The Kantian method is of course but one of a number of 
the philosophic attempts at harmonization. There is one phase 
of it which may be said to continue the Cartesian attempt to 
find the locus of absolute certainty within the knowing mind 
itself, surrendering both the endeavour of the ancients to dis- 
cover it in the world without, and of the mediaeval world to 
find it in an external revelation. In his search for forms and 
categories inherent in the very structure of knowing activity, 
Kant penetrated far below the superficial level of innate ideas 
in which his predecessors had tried to find the locus of certainty. 
Some of them were conditions of the possibility of there being 
such a thing as cognitive experience. Others were conditions 
of there being such a thing as moral experience. His idealistic 
successors pushed their way further on the road which Kant 
had broken: even thotigh he insisted that the doors were 
locked to travelling on it any further than he had gone. 

P 9lution by the method of partition is always unsatisfactory 


to minds with an ambition for comprehensiveness, just as it 
commends itself to those of a more modest turn. Moreover, 
the very neatness with which the essential traits of Kant's two 
realms fitted each other suggested a single underlying and 
unifying principle. And Kant himself in various writings had 
suggested, particularly in his Critique of Judgment, considera- 
tions which softened the sharpness of their separation from 
each other. Fichte and Hegel saw in these things a challenge to 
complete a work which Kant had only confusedly undertaken 
and had not had the intellectual courage and clarity to execute. 

The controlling purpose of the Post-Kantian idealistic sys- 
tems was to accomplish by way of integration the task which 
Kant attempted by way of division. The contrast between the 
methods of Fichte and Hegel is worth a passing notice. Fichte 
was wholly in the Hebraic tradition of the supremacy of the 
moral. He accordingly attempted unification of the cognitive 
and the practical from the side of moral self, the self from 
which issues the imperative of duty. The "is" of knowledge is 
to be derived from the "ought to be" of morals. The eifort 
does not seem promising; it appears to speak more for the 
ethical ardour of his personality than for the sobriety of his 
understanding. Yet given the premises as to the certainty and 
supremacy in Being of ideal values prior to all action, Fichte 's 
method has a logic not to be impeached. If the moral ideal is 
the ultimate reality, it is proper to derive the structure and 
characteristics of the actual world from the necessities the ideal 
imposes and the demands it makes. Argument from the actual 
to the ideal is a precarious undertaking, since the actual is in so 
many respects so thoroughly un-ideal. 

Hegel, on the other hand, is never weary of pouring con- 
tempt upon an Ideal that merely ought to be. "The actual is 
the rational and the rational is the actual." There is a definite 
relaxation of the stern Puritanism of Fichte. The moral task 
of man is not to create a world in accord with the ideal but 
to appropriate intellectually and in the substance of personality 


the meanings and values already incarnate in an actual world. 
Viewed historically, Hegel's system may be looked on as a 
triumph in material content of the modern secular and positi- 
vistic spirit. It is a glorification of the here and now, an indica- 
tion of the solid meanings and values contained in actual 
institutions and arts. It is an invitation to the human subject 
to devote himself to the mastery of what is already contained 
in the here and now of life and the world, instead of hunting 
for some remote ideal and repining because it cannot be found 
in existence. In form, however, the old tradition remains intact. 
The validity of these meanings and values, their "absolute" 
character, is proved by their being shown to be manifestations 
of the absolute spirit according to a necessary and demonstrative 
logical development : even though Hegel had to create a new 
logic to establish the identity of meaning and being. 

The Hegelian system is somewhat too grandiose for present 
taste. Even his followers find it necessary to temper the claims 
made for his logical method. And yet if there be a synthesis in 
ultimate Being of the realities which can be cognitively sub- 
stantiated and of the meanings which should command our 
highest admiration and approval, then concrete phenomena, 
barring a complete corruption due to some lapse, ought to be 
capable of being exhibited as definite manifestations of the 
eternal union of the real-ideal. Perhaps there is no system more 
repugnant to the admirers of Spinoza than the Hegelian; and 
yet Hegel himself felt, and with considerable reason, that he 
was simply doing in a specific and concrete way what Spinoza 
had undertaken in a formal and mathematical way. However, 
the point important for our purpose is that in both Fichte and 
Hegel there is expressed the animating spirit of modern ideal- 
ism in dealing with the basic problem of all modern philoso- 
phies. They have sought by examination of the structure of 
the knowing function (psychological structure in the subjective 
idealisms and logical structure in the objective idealisms and 
usually with a union of both strains) to show that no matter 


what the detailed conclusions of the special sciences, the ideal 
authority of truth, goodness and beauty is a secure possession 
of ultimate Being independently of experience and human 

There have been attempts at adjustment of the results of 
knowledge and the demands of ethico-religious authority which 
have not been mindful of the classic tradition. Instead of 
bringing nature within the fold of value, the order has been 
reversed. The physical system has been treated as the supporter 
and carrier of all objects having the properties which confer 
authority over conduct. A word about the system of Herbert 
Spencer among the moderns is appropriate in this connection, 
as one about Lucretius would be if antiquity were the theme. 
The doctrine that universal evolution is the highest principle 
of the physical world, one in which all natural laws are brought 
to unity, is accompanied with the idea that the goal of evolution 
marks the ideal of moral and religious beliefs and endeavours. 
This conclusion is as surely an attempt to adjust the two 
elements of the problem as anything found in any idealistic 
system. Were there any doubt about this point, Spencer's in- 
sistence on the evanescence of evil in the ongoing evolutionary 
process would remove it. All evils are the fruits of transitional 
maladjustments in the movement of evolution. The perfect 
adjustment of man, personal and collective, to the environment 
is the evolutionary term, and is one which signifies the elimina- 
tion of all evil, physical and moral. The ultimate triumph of 
justice and the union of the good of self with the good of 
others are identical with the working out of physical law. In 
objection to this or that phase of the Spencerian system it is 
easily forgotten that fundamentally he is occupied with the 
usual quest for a certainty in which a warrant of necessary 
knowledge is employed to establish the certainty of Good in 

Comprehensive systems are for the moment out of fashion ; 
and yet if cognitive certainty is possible and if it is admitted 


that the justification of value lies in its being a property of the 
realities which are the objects of knowledge, comprehensive- 
ness, whether of the Hegelian or the Spencerian type, would 
seem to be the proper ideal of philosophy. And if one believes 
that the conclusions of science exhaust the scope of the 
universe, then certainly all moral, social and political goods 
must fall within them; in that case such a task as that of 
Spencer is not only legitimate but one which philosophy 
cannot evade without being subject to the charge of bad faith. 

One more illustration awaits us. Contemporary philosophy 
in its realistic forms shows a tendency to revert to adjustment 
of the cognitive realm and the realm of values by means of the 
method of isolation. In detail, however, the method pursued 
is unlike that of Kant in that it does not start from the knowing 
mind but rather from the objects of knowing. These, it is 
argued, show a radical division into the existential and the 
non-existential. Physical science deals with the former; mathe- 
matics and logic with the latter. In the former, some things, 
namely sense-data, are objects of infallible apprehension ; while 
certain essences or subsistences, immaterial in nature because 
non-existential and non-physical, are the subjects of an equally 
assured cognition by reason. Uncertainty appertains only to 
combinations of ultimate and simple objects, combinations 
formed in reflective thought. As long as we stick to the self- 
guaranteed objects, whether of sense or of pure intellect, there 
is no opening for any uncertainty or any risk. 
** In some of these realisms, intrinsic values are included 
among the immaterial essences of which we have infallible and 
immediate knowledge. Thus the scheme of cognitive certainty 
applies all the way through. Science, in its naturalistic sense, is 
true of existences; ultimate morals and logic are true of 
essences. Philosophy has to do with the just partitioning of the 
field, and with the problems that arise from the union of 
existences and essences. 

Still another conception of philosophy of a more austere 



character has, however, been advanced. According to this view, 
values are hopelessly entangled with human affections and im- 
pulses, and are too variable to be the objects of any kind of 
sure knowledge of anything but variable opinion and guess- 
work. The great mistake of historic philosophy has been to 
admit values in any shape within the sacred enclosure of per- 
fect science. Philosophy is concerned only with propositions 
which are true in any possible world, existentially actual or not. 
Propositions about good and evil are too dependent upon a 
special form of existence, namely human beings with their 
peculiar traits, to find a place in the scheme of science. The only 
propositions which answer to the specification of pure univer- 
sality are logical and mathematical. These by their nature 
transcend existence and apply in every conceivable realm. 
Owing to the recent developments of mathematics, a philosophy 
emancipated from the contingencies of existence is now for 
the first time possible. 

This view of philosophy has been objected to on the ground 
that it rests on an arbitrary limitation of its subject-matter. But 
it may be questioned whether this restriction is not a logical 
development of that strain in historic philosophy which identi- 
fies its subject-matter with whatever is capable of taking on 
the form of cognitive certainty. Without committing one's self 
to the subjective view of values that seems to be implied, values 
are so intimately connected with human affections, choices and 
endeavours, that there is ground for holding that the insincere 
apologetic features of historic philosophies are connected with 
the attempt to combine a theory of the values having moral 
authority with a theory of ultimate Being. And a moderate 
amount of acquaintance with these philosophies discloses that 
they have been interested in justifying values drawn from cur- 
rent religious faiths and moral codes, not just eternal values 
as such : that they have often used the concept of universal 
and intrinsic values to cover those which, if not parochial, were 
at least exponents of temporal social conditions. 


The limitation of philosophy to propositions about what is 
logically possible eliminates all special physical propositions as 
well as all matters of morals, art and religion. In its chaste 
austerity it seems to fulfil the demand for cognitive certainty 
as no other conception of philosophy can do. Whether one 
accepts or rejects it, there is provided by it an explicit way in 
which to raise a question. Because of the sharpness of its delimi- 
tation of the office of philosophy, it elicits clearly the problem of 
the idea to be entertained of that office. For with the restriction 
that is made there remains over and untouched a problem of the 
greatest possible human significance. What is the bearing of 
our existential knowledge at any time, the most dependable 
knowledge afforded by inquiry, upon our judgments and 
beliefs about the ends and means which are to direct our 
conduct ? What does knowledge indicate about the authoritative 
guidance of our desires and affections, our plans and policies ? 
Unless knowledge gives some regulation, the only alternative 
is to fall back on custom, external pressure and the free play 
of impulse. There is then need of some theory on this matter. 
If we are forbidden to call this theory philosophy by the self- 
denying ordinance which restricts it to formal logic, need for 
the theory under some other name remains. 

There is a fatal ambiguity in the conception of philosophy 
as a purely theoretical or intellectual subject. The ambiguity 
lies in the fact that the conception is used to cover both the 
attitude of the inquirer, the thinker, and the character of 
the subject-matter dealt with. The engineer, the physician, the 
moralist deal with a subject-matter which is practical ; one, that 
is, which concerns things to be done and the way of doing 
them. But as far as personal disposition and purpose is con- 
cerned, their inquiries are intellectual and cognitive. These men 
set out to find out certain things; in order to find them out, 
there has to be a purgation of personal desire and preference, 
and a willingness to subordinate them to the lead of the subject- 
matter inquired into. The mind must be purified as far as is 


humanly possible of bias and of that favouritism for one kind 
of conclusion rather than another which distorts observation 
and introduces an extraneous factor into reflection. 

Except, then, on the premise that the subject-matter of 
philosophy is fixed properties of antecedent Being, the fact 
that it is an intellectual pursuit signifies nothing beyond the 
fact that those who engage in it should respect the canons of 
fairness, impartiality, of internal consistency and external 
evidence. It carries no implication with it except on the basis 
of a prior assumption save that of intellectual honesty. Only 
upon the obverse of the adage that whoso drives fat oxen must 
himself be fat, can it be urged that logical austerity of personal 
attitude and procedure demands that the subject-matter dealt 
with must be made lean by stripping it of all that is human 
concern. To say that the object of philosophy is truth is to 
make a moral statement which applies to every inquiry. It 
implies nothing as to the kind of truth which is to be ascer- 
tained, whether it be of a purely theoretical nature, of a 
practical character, or whether it concerns the bearing of one 
upon the other. To assert that contemplation of truth for its 
own sake is the highest ideal is to make a judgment concerning 
authoritative value. To employ this judgment as a means of 
determining the office of philosophy is to violate the canon 
that inquiry should follow the lead of subject-matter. 

It is fair, then, to conclude that the question of the rela- 
tions of theory and practice to each other, and of philosophy 
to both of them, has often been compromised by failure to 
maintain the distinction between the theoretical interest which 
is another name for intellectual candour and the theoretical 
interest which defines the nature of subject-matter. Over and 
above this fact, there is reason to suppose that much of the 
impatience with the suggestion of the practical in connection 
with philosophy is due to the habit of associating "practical" 
with affairs of narrow personal concern. The significance of the 
idea cannot be thus sheared down without an elimination of 


intellectual regard for the values which are to have authority 
over our desires and purposes and thus over our entire conduct. 
It would seem as if only the cynical sceptic would willingly 
take such a stand. 

** The discussion has indulged in an excursion from the theme 
of the problem of modern philosophies. But it is relevant to 
our main topic if it serves to make clear the fundamental 
ground for the disparaging view held of practical activity. 
Depreciation is warranted on the basis of two premises : first, 
namely, that the object of knowledge is some form of 
ultimate Being which is antecedent to reflective inquiry and 
independent of it; secondly, that this antecedent Being has 
among its defining characteristics those properties which alone 
have authority over the formation of our judgments of value 
that is, of the ends and purposes which should control conduct 
in all fields intellectual, social, moral, religious, aesthetic. 
Given these premises and only if they are accepted it 
follows that philosophy has for its sole office the cognition of 
this Being and its essential properties. 

I can understand that the tenor of my discussion may have 
aroused a certain impatience among those familiar with current 
treatment of politics, morals and art. It will be asked : Where 
is there any evidence that this treatment is controlled by regard 
for antecedently fixed qualifications of what is taken to be ulti- 
mately real? It cannot be denied, and I have no interest in 
denying, that the vast bulk of critical discussion of such matters 
is conducted on quite different grounds, with hardly even a 
side glance at any standards which flow from any philosophy 
of ultimate grounds. This admission causes two important con- 
siderations to stand out the clearer. Traditional religion does 
refer all ultimate authoritative norms to the highest reality, 
the nature of God ; and failure on the part of those professedly 
accepting this religion to carry this reference over to concrete 
criticism and judgment in special fields of morals, politics and 
art, is only an evidence of the confusion in which modern 


thought is entangled. It is this fact which gives the strict 
adherents to old beliefs, such as those trained in the Catholic 
faith, an intellectual advantage over "liberals". For the latter 
have no philosophy adequate for their undertakings and 

This consideration brings us to the second point. The failure 
to employ standards derived from true Being in the formation 
of beliefs and judgments in concrete fields is proof of an isola- 
tion from contemporary life that is forced upon philosophy by 
its adherence to the two principles which are basic in the classic 
tradition. In the middle ages there was no such isolation. 
Philosophy and the conduct of life were associated intimately 
with one another; there was genuine correspondence. The 
outcome is not fortunate for philosophy; it signifies that its 
subject-matter is more and more derived from the problems and 
conclusions of its own past history ; that it is aloof from the 
problems of the culture in which philosophers live. 

But the situation has a still more unfortunate phase. For 
it signifies intellectual confusion, practically chaos, in respect 
to the criteria and principles which are employed in framing 
judgments and reaching conclusions upon things of most vital 
importance. It signifies the absence of intellectual authority. 
Old beliefs have dissolved as far as definite operative hold 
upon the regulation of criticism and the formation of plans 
and policies, working ideals and ends, is concerned. And there 
is nothing else to take their place. 

When I say "authority" I do not mean a fixed set of doc- 
trines by which to settle mechanically problems as they arise. 
Such authority is dogmatic, not intellectual. I mean methods 
congruous with those used in scientific inquiry and adopting 
their conclusions ; methods to be used in directing criticism and 
in forming the ends and purposes that are acted upon. We 
have obtained in constantly accelerated measure in the last few 
centuries a large amount of sound beliefs regarding the world 
in which we live; we have ascertained much that is new and 


striking about life and man. On the other hand, men have 
desires and affections, hopes and fears, purposes and intentions 
which influence the most important actions performed. These 
need intellectual direction. Why has modern philosophy con- 
tributed so little to bring about an integration between what 
we know about the world and the intelligent direction of what 
we do ? The purport of this chapter is to show that the cause 
resides in unwillingness to surrender two ideas formulated in 
conditions which both intellectually and practically were very 
different from those in which we now live. These two ideas, to 
repeat, are that knowledge is concerned with disclosure of the 
characteristics of antecedent existences and essences, and that 
the properties of value found therein provide the authoritative 
standards for the conduct of life. 

Both of these traits are due to quest for certainty by cogni- 
tive means which exclude practical activity namely, one 
which effects actual and concrete modifications in existence. 
Practical activity suffers from a double discrediting because of 
the perpetuation of these two features of tradition. It is a 
mere external follower upon knowledge, having no part in its 
determination. Instead of evolving its own standards and ends 
in its own developing processes, it is supposed to conform to 
what is fixed in the antecedent structure of things. Herein we 
locate the source of that internal division which was said to 
characterize modern philosophic thought. It accepts the con- 
clusions of scientific inquiry without remaking the conceptions 
of mind, knowledge and the character of the object of knowledge 
that are involved in the methods by which these conclusions 
are reached. 

The chapters of which this is the concluding portion are 
introductory. They have tried to make clear a problem and the 
reasons why it is a problem. If, as has been intimated, the 
problem arises from continued adherence to certain conceptions 
framed centuries ago and then embodied in the entire western 
tradition, the problem is artificial in as far as it would not 


arise from reflection upon actual conditions of science and life 
The next task is accordingly to elucidate the reconstruction 
of tradition which are involved in the actual procedure an< 
results of knowing, as this is exemplified in physical inquiry 
The latter is taken as the type and pattern of knowing since i 
is the most perfected of all branches of intellectual inquiry 
We shall see that for a long time it also was influenced by th< 
survival of the traditional conceptions of knowledge and its 
supposed relationship to properties of antecedent existence 
while in our own time it has finally emancipated itself anc 
arrived at a consciousness of the principles contained in ifc 
own method. Having discovered what knowledge means ir 
its own terms, that is, in those of the conduct of knowing as i 
going concern, we shall be ready to appreciate the great trans- 
formation that is demanded in the older notions of mind and 
knowledge. Particularly we shall see how completely the 
separation of knowing and doing from one another has broken 
down. The conclusion of this part of the discussion will be that 
standards and tests of validity are found in the consequences oi 
overt activity, not in what is fixed prior to it and independently 
of it. This conclusion will lead us to the final point, the trans- 
formation that is required in the conception of the values 
which have authority over conduct. 



THERE WAS A TIME when "art" and "science" were virtually 
equivalent terms. There is a reminiscence of this period in 
university organization in the phrase "faculty of arts and 
sciences". A distinction was drawn between the "mechanical" 
and the "liberal" arts. In part, this distinction was between 
industrial arts and social arts, those concerned with things and 
those concerned directly with persons. Grammar and rhetoric, 
for example, in dealing with speech, the interpretation of 
literature and the arts of persuasion, were higher than black- 
smithing and carpentry. The mechanical arts dealt with things 
which were merely means; the liberal arts dealt with affairs 
that were ends, things having a final and intrinsic worth. The 
obviousness of the distinction was re-enforced by social causes. 
Mechanics were concerned with mechanical arts; they were 
lower in the social scale. The school in which their arts were 
learned was the school of practice : apprenticeship to those who 
had already mastered the craft and mystery. Apprentices 
literally "learned by doing", and "doing" was routine repeti- 
tion and imitation of the acts of others, until personal skill 
was acquired. The liberal arts were studied by those who were 
to be in some position of authority, occupied with some exercise 
of social rule. Such persons had the material means that 
afforded leisure, and were to engage in callings that had 
especial honour and prestige. Moreover, they learned not by 
mechanical repetition and bodily practice in manipulation of 
materials and tools, but "intellectually", through a kind of 
study which involved mind, not body. 

The situation is not recalled as if it had a merely historical 
significance. It describes in large measure a state of affairs that 
exists to-day. The distinction between "learned professions" 


and the occupations of the shop and factory, with correspond- 
ing differences of social status, of educational preparation, of 
concern chiefly with material things or with persons and social 
relations, is too familiar to call for recourse to past history. 
The chief difference in the present situation is due to the rise 
of technological industry and of a pecuniary economy, at the 
expense of the inherited status of the "gentleman", the owner 
of large estates in land. So our allusion is pertinent not to 
history, but to still existing conditions that are influential in 
creating and maintaining the division between theory and 
practice, mind and body, ends and instrumentalities. 

In addition to this distinction between higher and lower 
arts, there always hovered in the background a distinction 
between all arts and "science" in the true and ultimate sense of 
the words. The liberal arts involved much more of knowledge 
and of theoretical study, of use of "mind", than did the me- 
chanical. But in their ultimate import they were still connected 
with art, with doing, although with a mode of practice held in 
higher esteem. They remained within the limits of experience, 
although of an experience having a kind of value not found in 
the baser arts. The philosophic tradition, as for example it is 
formulated by Aristotle, ranked social arts lower than pure 
intellectual inquiry, than knowledge as something not to be 
put to any use, even a social and moral one. It is conceivable 
that historically this point of view might have remained a 
mere laudation of its own calling on the part of a small intel- 
lectual class. But, as we have already noted, in the expansion 
of the Church as a dominant power in Europe, religion affili- 
ated this philosophic conception to itself. Theology was 
regarded as "science" in a peculiar, a unique, sense, for it alone 
was knowledge of supreme and ultimate Being. And the 
Church had a direct influence over the hearts and conduct, 
the beliefs and judgments, of men that a secluded intellectual 
class could never win. As the guardians and dispensers of the 
truths and sacraments that determined the eternal destiny, the 


eternal happiness or misery of the soul, they effected the 
embodiment of ideas originating in philosophy in the culture 
of Christendom. 

In consequence, differences and distinctions characteristic 
of actual social life received the sanction not merely of the 
rational formulation of a few philosophic thinkers, but of that 
power which had the highest authority and influence in the 
lives of men. For this reason, the survey that has been made 
of the classic philosophic statement of the dualism between 
theory and practice, between mind and body, between reason 
and experience (always thought of in terms of sense and the 
body) is much more than a piece of historic information. For 
in spite of enormous extension of secular interests and of 
natural science, of expansion of practical arts and occupations, 
of the almost frantic domination of present life by concern for 
definite material interests and the organization of society by 
forces fundamentally economic, there is no widely held philo- 
sophy of life which replaces the traditional classic one as that 
was absorbed and modified by the Christian faith. 

Traditional philosophy thus has a treble advantage. It has 
behind it the multitude of imaginative and emotional associa- 
tions and appeals that cluster about any tradition which has 
for long centuries been embodied in a dominant institution; 
they continue to influence, unconsciously, the minds of those 
who no longer give intellectual assent to the tenets on which 
the tradition intellectually rests. It has, secondly, the backing 
of the persistence of the social conditions out of which the 
formulation of the dualism between theory and practice origin- 
ally grew the familiar grading of activities from the servile 
and mechanical to the liberal, the free and socially esteemed. In 
addition, there is the enforced recognition of the peril and 
frustration in the actual world of meanings and goods most 
prized, a matter which makes men ready to listen to the story 
o a higher realm in which these values are eternally safe. 

In the third place, and finally, there is the negative counter- 


part of these positive facts. Conditions and forces that dominate 
in actual fact the modern world have not attained any coherent 
intellectual expression of themselves. We live, as is so often 
remarked, in a state of divided allegiance. In outward activities 
and current enjoyments, we are frenetically absorbed in 
mundane affairs in ways which, if they were formulated for 
intellectual acceptance, would be repudiated as low and un- 
worthy. We give our emotional and theoretical assent to prin- 
ciples and creeds which are no longer actively operative in life. 
We have retained enough of the older tradition to recognize 
that a philosophy which formulated what, on the whole and in 
the mass, we are most concerned with, would be intolerably 
materialistic in character. On the other hand, we are not pre- 
pared, either intellectually or morally, to frame such a philoso- 
phy of the interests and activities that actually dominate our 
lives as would elevate them to a plane of truly liberal and 
humane significance. We are unable to show that the ideals, 
values and meanings which the philosophy we nominally hold 
places in another world, are capable of characterizing in a 
concrete form, with some measure of security, the world in 
which we live, that of our actual experience. 

On this account any sincere empirical philosophy that holds 
to the possibility of the latter alternative must be prophetic 
rather than descriptive. It can offer hypotheses rather than 
report of facts adequately in existence. It must support these 
hypotheses by argument, rather than by appeal to matters 
clearly within the range of easy observation. It is speculative 
in that it deals with "futures'*. Candour demands that these 
considerations be frankly set forth. But there is also another 
side to the matter. There is a distinction between hypotheses 
generated in that seclusion from observable fact which renders 
them fantasies, and hypotheses that are projections of the possi- 
bilities of facts already in existence and capable of report. 
There is a difference between the imaginative speculations that 
recognize no law except their own dialectic consistency, and 


those which rest on an observable movement of events, and 
which foresee these events carried to a limit by the force of 
their own movement. There is a difference between support by 
argument from arbitrarily assumed premises, and an argument 
which sets forth the implications of propositions resting upon 
facts already vitally significant. 

The groundwork of fact that is selected for especial exam- 
ination and description in the hypothesis which is to be set 
forth is the procedure of present scientific inquiry, in those 
matters that are most fully subject to intellectual control 
namely, the physical sciences. The state of inquiry in them is 
an observable fact, not a speculation nor a matter of opinion 
and argument. The selection of this field of fact rather than 
some other as that from which to project a hypothesis regard- 
ing a future possible experience in which experience will 
itself provide the values, meanings and standards now sought 
in some transcendent world, has both theoretical and 
practical justification. From the point of view of technical 
philosophy, the nature of knowledge has always been the 
foundation and point of departure for philosophies that have 
separated knowing from doing and making, and that in conse- 
quence have elevated the objects of knowledge, as measures of 
genuine reality, above experiences of objects had by the way of 
affection and practical action. If, accordingly, it can be shown 
that the actual procedures by which the most authentic and 
dependable knowledge is attained have completely surrendered 
the separation of knowing and doing ; if it can be shown that 
overtly executed operations of interaction are requisite to 
obtain the knowledge called scientific, the chief fortress of the 
classic philosophical tradition crumbles into dust. With this 
destruction disappears also the reason for which some objects, 
as fixed in themselves, out of and above the course of human 
experience and its consequences, have been set in opposition to 
the temporal and concrete world in which we live. 

The practical reason for selecting such a technical matter 


as the method of physical science is the fact that the application 
of natural science, through the medium of inventions and 
technologies, is the finally controlling and characteristic fact 
of modern life. That western civilization is increasingly indus- 
trial in character is a commonplace; it should be an equally 
familiar fact that this industrialization is the direct fruit of 
the growth of the experimental method of knowing. The 
effects of this industrialization in politics, social arrangements, 
communication and intercourse, in work and play, in the 
determination of the locus of influence, power and prestige, are 
characteristic marks of present experience in the concrete. They 
are the ultimate source of that waning of the effective influence 
of older beliefs that has been alluded to. They also provide 
the reason why a philosophy which merely reflected and 
reported the chief features of the existing situation as if they 
were final, without regard to what they may become, would 
be so repulsively materialistic. Both the positive fact that our 
actual life is more and more determined by the results of 
physical science, and the negative fact that these results are so 
largely an obstacle to framing a philosophy consonant with 
present experience so influential in inducing men to hold on 
to elements of the older tradition are reasons for selecting 
the procedure of natural science as the main theme of our 

There will be little time and opportunity for discussion of 
the problem in its immediately practical form the potential 
significance of that industrial society which has emerged in 
consequence of the conclusions and methods of physical know- 
ledge. But it may be pointed out that, in principle, it signifies 
simply that the results of intelligence, instead of remaining 
aloof and secluded from practice, are embodied in influential 
ways in the activities and experience which actually obtain. 
Say what we please in derogation of "applied science", in 
principle this is what the latter signifies. And there are few 
persons, I imagine, who would wittingly proclaim that incarna- 


tion of knowledge and understanding in the concrete experi- 
ences of life is anything but a good. Derogation on principle 
of application of knowledge is, in itself, merely an expression 
of the old tradition of the inherent superiority of knowledge 
to practice, of reason to experience. 

There is a genuine and extremely serious problem in con- 
nection with the application of science in life . But it is a practical , 
not theoretical, one. That is to say, it concerns the economic 
and legal organization of society in consequence of which the 
knowledge which regulates activity is so much the monopoly 
of the few, and is used by them in behalf of private and class 
interests and not for general and shared use. The problem 
concerns the possible transformation of social conditions with 
respect to their economic and pecuniary basis. This problem 
time and space will not permit me to consider. But the pecuni- 
arily economic phase of society is something radically different 
from industrialization, and from the inherent consequences 
of technology in current life. To identify the two affairs 
breeds only confusion. It must also be noted that this is a 
question which has of itself nothing to do with the matter 
of the relations of theory and practice, of knowledge and its 
application in doing and making. The practical and social 
problem is one of effecting a more general equitable distribu- 
tion of the elements of understanding and knowledge in 
connection with work done, activities undertaken, and a 
consequent freer and more generously shared participation in 
their results. 

Before engaging in consideration of the significance of the 
method of science for formation of the theory of knowledge 
and of mind, we shall take up some general points. These are 
all connected, at bottom, with the contrast between the idea 
of experience framed when arts were mainly routine, skills 
acquired by mere exercise and practice, and the idea of experi- 
ence appropriate when arts have become experimental: or, 
put briefly, between experience as empirical and as expert- 


mental. " Experience " once meant the results accumulated in 
memory of a variety of past doings and undergoings that were 
had without control by insight, when the net accumulation 
was found to be practically available in dealing with present 
situations. Both the original perceptions and uses and the appli- 
cation of their outcome in present doings were accidental that 
is, neither was determined by an understanding of the relations 
of cause and effect, of means and consequences, involved. In 
that sense they were non-rational, non-scientific. A typical 
illustration is a bridge-builder who constructs simply on the 
basis of what has been done and what happened in the past, 
without reference to knowledge of strains and stresses, or in 
general of physical relationships actually involved; or the art 
of medicine, as far as it rests simply upon the accidents of 
remedial measures used in the past without knowledge of why 
some worked and others did not. A measure of skill results, 
but it is the fruit of cut-and-dried methods, of trial and error 
in short it is " empirical' '. 

The disparaging notion of experience framed under such 
conditions is an honest report of actual conditions ; philosophers 
in setting experience down as inherently inferior to rational 
science were truthful. What they added was another matter. 
It was a statement that this inferiority was inherently connected 
with the body, with the senses, with material things, with the 
uncertainly changing as over against the certain because immut- 
able. Unfortunately their theories in explanation of the defects 
of experience persisted and became classic after experience itself, 
in some of its forms, had become experimental in the sense 
of being directed by understanding of conditions and their 
consequences. Two points are especially significant with refer- 
ence to the split thus produced between the traditional theory of 
experience and that which results from noting its experimental 

In the traditional theory, which still is the prevailing one, 
there were alleged to exist inherent defects in perception and 


observation as means of knowledge, in reference to the subject- 
matter they furnish. This material, in the older notion, is 
inherently so particular, so contingent and variable, that by no 
possible means can it contribute to knowledge ; it can result 
only in opinion, mere belief. But in modern science there are 
only practical defects in the senses, certain limitations of vision, 
for example, that have to be corrected and supplemented by 
various devices, such as the use of the lens. Every insufficiency 
of observation is an instigation to invent some new instrument 
which will make good the defect, or it is a stimulus to devising 
indirect means, such as mathematical calculations, by which the 
limitations of sense will be circumvented. The counterpart of 
this change is one in the conception of thought and its relation 
to knowing. It was earlier assumed that higher knowledge must ' 
be supplied by pure thought; pure because apart from experi- 
ence, since the latter involves the senses. Now, it is taken for 
granted that thought, while indispensable to knowledge of 
natural existence, can never in itself provide that knowledge. 
Observation is indispensable both to provide authentic 
materials to work upon and to test and verify the conclusions 
reached by theoretical considerations. A specified kind of 
experience is indispensable to science instead of all experience 
setting a limit to the possibility of true science. 

There is an objective counterpart of this shift. In the older 
theory, sense and experience were barriers to true science be- 
cause they are implicated in natural change. Their appropriate 
and inevitable subject-matter was variable and changing things. 
Knowledge in its full and valid sense is possible only of the 
immutable, the fixed; that alone answers the quest for cer- 
tainty. With regard to changing things, only surmise and 
opinion are possible, just as practically these are the source 
of peril. To a scientific man, in terms of what he does in 
inquiry, the notion of a natural science which should turn its 
back upon the changes of things, upon events, is simply incom- 
prehensible. What he is interested in knowing, in understanding, 


are precisely the changes that go on; they set his problems, 
and problems are solved when changes are interconnected with 
one another. Constants and relative invariants figure, but they 
are relations between changes, not the constituents of a higher 
realm of Being. With this modification with respect to the 
object comes one in the structure and content of "experience". 
Instead of there being a fixed difference between it and some- 
thing higher rational thought there is a difference between 
two kinds of experience ; one which is occupied with uncon- 
trolled change and one concerned with directed and regulated 
change. And this difference, while fundamentally important, 
does not mark a fixed division. Changes of the first type are 
something to be brought under control by means of action 
directed by understanding of relationships. 

In the old scheme, knowledge, as science, signified precisely 
and exclusively turning away from change to the changeless. 
In the new experimental science, knowledge is obtained in 
exactly the opposite way, namely, through deliberate institu- 
tion of a definite and specified course of change. The method 
of physical inquiry is to introduce some change in order to 
see what other change ensues; the correlation between these 
changes, when measured by a series of operations, constitutes 
the definite and desired object of knowledge. There are two 
degrees of control of change which differ practically but are 
alike in principle. In astronomy, for example, we cannot intro- 
duce variation into remote heavenly bodies. But we can 
deliberately alter the conditions under which we observe them, 
which is the same thing in principle of logical procedure. By 
special instruments, the use of lens and prism, by telescopes, 
spectroscopes, interferometers, etc., we modify observed data. 
Observations are taken from widely different points in space 
and at successive times. By such means interconnected varia- 
tions are observed. In physical and chemical matters closer at 
hand and capable of more direct manipulation, changes intro- 
duced affect the things under inquiry. Appliances and reagents 


for bringing about variations in the things studied are em- 
ployed. The progress of inquiry is identical with advance in 
the invention and construction of physical instrumentalities for 
producing, registering and measuring changes. 

Moreover, there is no difference in logical principle between 
the method of science and the method pursued in technologies. 
The difference is practical; in the scale of operations con- 
ducted; in the lesser degree of control through isolation of 
conditions operative, and especially in the purpose for the 
sake of which regulated control of modifications of natural 
existences and energies is undertaken; especially, since the 
dominant motive of large-scale regulation of the course of 
change is material comfort or pecuniary gain. But the technique 
of modern industry, in commerce, communication, transporta- 
tion and all the appliances of light, heat and electricity, is the 
fruit of the modern application of science. And this so-called 
" application "signifies that the same kind of intentional introduc- 
tion and management of changes which takes place in the labora- 
tory is induced in the factory, the railway and the power-house. 

The central and outstanding fact is that the change in the 
method of knowing, due to the scientific revolution begun in 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, has been accompanied 
by a revolution in the attitude of man toward natural occur- 
rences and their interactions. This transformation means, as 
was intimated earlier, a complete reversal in the traditional 
relationship of knowledge and action. Science advances by 
adopting the instruments and doings of directed practice, and 
the knowledge thus gained becomes a means of the develop- 
ment of arts which bring nature still further into actual and 
potential service of human purposes and valuations. The 
astonishing thing is that in the face of this change wrought 
in civilization, there still persist the notions about mind and its 
organs of knowing, together with the inferiority of practice to 
intellect, which developed in antiquity as the report of a totally 
different situation. 


The hold which older conceptions have gained over the 
minds of thinkers, the sway of inertia in habits of philosophic 
thought, can be most readily judged by turning to books on 
epistemology and to discussions of problems connected with the 
theory of knowledge published in the philosophical periodicals. 
Articles on logical method will be found which reflect the pro- 
cedures of actual knowing, that is of the practice of scientific 
inquiry. But logic is then usually treated as "mere" method- 
ology, having little (probably nothing would be nearer the 
mark) to do with the theory of knowledge. The latter is dis- 
cussed in terms of conceptions about mind and its organs; 
these conceptions are supposed to be capable of adequate 
formation apart from observation of what goes on when men 
engage in successful inquiry. Of late, the main problem in 
such discussions is to frame a theory of "consciousness" which 
shall explain knowing, as if consciousness were either a fact 
whose meaning is self-evident, or something less obscure in 
content and more observable than are the objective and public 
procedures of scientific investigation. This type of discussion 
persists; it is, in current conception, the theory of knowledge, 
the natural and inevitable way in which to discuss its basic 
problems! Volumes could not say more for the persistence 
of traditional ideas. The import of even a rudimentary dis- 
cussion of actual experimental method can hardly be gathered, 
then, without bearing in mind its significance as a contrast 

While the traits of experimental inquiry are familiar, so little 
use has been made of them in formulating a theory of knowledge 
and of mind in relation to nature that a somewhat explicit 
statement of well-known facts is excusable. They exhibit three 
outstanding characteristics. The first is the obvious one that all 
experimentation involves overt doing, the making of definite 
changes in the environment or in our relation to it. The second 
is that experiment is not a random activity but is directed by 
ideas which have to meet the conditions set by the need of 


the problem inducing the active inquiry. The third and con- 
cluding feature, in which the other two receive their full 
measure of meaning, is that the outcome of the directed activity 
is the construction of a new empirical situation in which objects 
are differently related to one another, and such that the conse- 
quences of directed operations form the objects that have the 
property of being known. 

The rudimentary prototype of experimental doing for the 
sake of knowing is found in ordinary procedures. When we 
are trying to make out the nature of a confused and unfamiliar 
object, we perform various acts with a view to establishing a 
new relationship to it, such as will bring to light qualities which 
will aid in understanding it. We turn it over, bring it into a 
better light, rattle and shake it, thump, push and press it, and 
so on. The object as it is experienced prior to the introduction 
of these changes baffles us ; the intent of these acts is to make 
changes which will elicit some previously unperceived qualities, 
and by varying conditions of perception shake loose some 
property which as it stands blinds or misleads us. 

While such experimentations, together with a kind of 
experimental playing with things just to see what will happen, 
are the chief source of the everyday non-scientific store of 
information about things around us, forming the bulk of 
" common-sense " knowledge, the limitations of the mode of 
procedure are so evident as to require no exposition. The 
important thing in the history of modern knowing is the rein- 
forcement of these active doings by means of instruments, 
appliances and apparatus devised for the purposes of disclosing 
relations not otherwise apparent, together with, as far as overt 
action is concerned, the development of elaborate techniques 
for the introduction of a much greater range of variations 
that is, a systematic variation of conditions so as to produce a 
corresponding series of changes in the thing under investiga- 
tion. Among these operations should be included, of course, 
those which give a permanent register of what is observed and 


the instrumentalities of exact measurement by means of which 
changes are correlated with one another. 

These matters are so familiar that their full import for 
the theory of knowing readily escapes notice. Hence the need 
of comparing this kind of knowledge of natural existences with 
that obtaining before the rise of the experimental method. 
The striking difference is, of course, the dependence placed 
upon doing, doing of a physical and overt sort. Ancient science, 
that is, what passed as science, would have thought it a kind 
of treason to reason as the organ of knowing to subordinate it 
to bodily activity on material things, helped out with tools 
which are also material. It would have seemed like admitting 
the superiority of matter to rational mind, an admission which 
from its standpoint was contradictory to the possibility of 

With this fundamental change goes another, that in the 
attitude taken toward the material of direct sense-perception. 
No notion could be further away from the fact than the some- 
what sedulously cultivated idea that the difference between 
ancient and modern science is that the former had no respect 
for perception and relied exclusively upon speculation. In fact, 
the Greeks were keenly sensitive to natural objects and were 
keen observers. The trouble lay not in substitution of theoriz- 
ing from the outset for the material of perception, but in that 
they took the latter "as is"; they made no attempt to modify 
it radically before undertaking thinking and theorizing about 
it. As far as observation unaided by artificial appliances and 
means for deliberate variation of observed material went, the 
Greeks went far. 

Their disrespect for sensibly observed material concerned 
only its form. For it had to be brought under logical forms 
supplied by rational thought. The fact that the material was 
not exclusively logical, or such as to satisfy the requirements 
of rational form, made the resulting knowledge less scientific 
than that of pure mathematics, logic and metaphysics occupied 


with eternal Being. But as far as science extended, it dealt with 
the material of sense-perception as it directly offered itself to 
a keen and alert observer. In consequence, the material of 
Greek natural science is much closer to "common-sense" 
material than are the results of contemporary science. One can 
read the surviving statements of it without any more technical 
preparation than say a knowledge of Euclidean geometry, 
while no one can follow understandingly the reports of most 
modern investigations in physics without a highly technical 
preparatory education. One reason the atomic theory pro- 
pounded in antiquity made so little headway is that it did not 
agree with the results of ordinary observation. For this pre- 
sented objects clothed with rich qualities and falling into kinds 
or species that were themselves marked by qualitative, rather 
than by merely quantitative and spatial, differences. In antiquity 
it was the atomic theory which was purely speculative and 
"deductive" in character. 

These statements would be misunderstood if they were 
taken to imply an allegation that in ancient science sense 
gives knowledge, while modern science excludes the material 
of sense; such an idea inverts the facts. But ancient science 
accepted the material of sense-material on its face, and then 
organized it, as it naturally and originally stood, by operations 
of logical definition, classification into species and syllogistic 
subsumption. Men either had no instruments and appliances 
for modifying the ordinary objects of observation, for analys- 
ing them into their elements and giving them new forms and 
arrangements, or they failed to use those which they had. Thus 
in content, or subject-matter, the conclusions of Greek science 
(which persisted till the scientific revolution of the seventeenth 
century), were much closer to the objects of everyday experi- 
ence than are the objects of present scientific thought. It is 
not meant that the Greeks had more respect for the function 
of perception through the senses than has modern science, 
but that, judged from present practice, they had altogether 


too much respect for the material of direct, unanalysed sense- 

They were aware of its defects from the standpoint of know- 
ledge. But they supposed that they could correct these defects 
and supplement their lack by purely logical or "rational" 
means. They supposed that thought could take the material 
supplied by ordinary perception, eliminate varying and hence 
contingent qualities, and thus finally reach the fixed and im- 
mutable form which makes particulars have the character they 
have; define this form as the essence or true reality of the 
particular things in question, and then gather a group of per- 
ceived objects into a species which is as eternal as its particular 
exemplifications are perishable. The passage from ordinary 
perception to scientific knowledge did not therefore demand 
the introduction of actual, overt and observed changes into the 
material of sense-perception. Modern science, with its changes 
in the subject-matter of direct perception effected by the use 
of apparatus, gets away not from observed material as such, 
but from the qualitative characteristics of things as they are 
originally and "naturally" observed. 

It may thus be fairly asserted that the "categories" of 
Greek description and explanation of natural phenomena were 
aesthetic in character; for perception of the aesthetic sort is 
interested in things in their immediate qualitative traits. The 
logical features they depended upon to confer scientific form 
upon the material of observation were harmony, proportion or 
measure, symmetry: these constitute the "logos" that renders 
phenomena capable of report in rational discourse. In virtue of 
these properties, superimposed upon phenomena but thought 
to be elicited from them, natural objects are knowable. Thus 
the Greeks employed thinking not as a means of changing 
given objects of observation so as to get at the conditions and 
effects of their occurrence, but to impose upon them certain 
static properties not found in them in their changeable occur- 
rence. The essence of the static properties conferred upon 


them was harmony of form and pattern. Craftsmen, architects, 
sculptors, gymnasts, poets had taken raw material and con- 
verted it into finished forms marked by symmetry and 
proportion ; they accomplished this task without the prior dis- 
integrative reduction which characterizes modern making in 
the factory. Greek thinkers performed a like task for nature 
as a whole. Instead, however, of employing the material tools 
of the crafts, they depended upon thought alone. They bor- 
rowed the form provided them in Greek art in abstraction from 
its material appliances. They aimed at constructing out of 
nature, as observed, an artistic whole for the eye of the soul 
to behold. Thus for science nature was a cosmos. It was com- 
posed, but it was not a composite of elements. That is, it was a 
qualitative whole, a whole as is a drama, a statue or a temple, 
in virtue of a pervading and dominant qualitative unity; it 
was not an aggregate of homogeneous units externally arranged 
in different modes. Design was the form and pattern in- 
trinsically characteristic of things in their fixed kinds, not 
something first formed in a designing mind and then imposed 
from without. 

In his Creative Evolution, Bergson remarks that to the 
Greek mind that reality which is the object of the truest know- 
ledge is found in some privileged moment when a process of 
change attains its climactic apogee. The Ideas of Plato and the 
Forms of Aristotle, as he says, may be compared in their rela- 
tion to particular things to the horses of the Parthenon frieze 
in relation to the casual movements of horses. The essential 
movement which gives and defines the character of the horse 
is summed up in the eternal moment of a static position and 
form. To see, to grasp, that culminating and defining form, 
and by grasping to possess and enjoy it, is to know. 

This aperfu of Bergson illustrates the conception of the 
essentially artistic character possessed for Greek science by the 
object of knowledge. It is borne out by the details of Greek 
science. I know of no one thing more significant for an under- 


standing of Greek science than Aristotle's treatment of quantity 
as an accident, that is, as something which can vary within 
limits (set by the inherent essence and measure, logos) of a 
thing without affecting its nature. When we think of the 
Cartesian definition of quantity as the essence of matter, we 
appreciate that an intellectual revolution has taken place: a 
radical change in point of view and not just the product of 
more, and more accurately stated, information, but a change 
involving surrender of the aesthetic character of the object. 
Contrast the place occupied in modern science by relations with 
the Aristotelean illustrations of their nature namely, distinc- 
tions of more and less, greater and smaller, etc. For the point 
of Aristotle's treatment is that relations, like quantity, are 
indifferent to the essence or nature of the object, and hence 
are of no final account for scientific knowledge. This conception 
is thoroughly appropriate to an aesthetic point of view, wherein 
that which is internally complete and self-sufficing is the all- 
important consideration. 

The addiction of Pythagorean-Platonism to number and 
geometry might seem to contradict what has been said. But it 
is one of the exceptions that prove the rule. For geometry and 
number in this scheme were means of ordering natural 
phenomena as they are directly observed. They were principles 
of measure, symmetry and allotment that satisfied canons 
essentially aesthetic. Science had to wait almost two thousand 
years for mathematics to become an instrument of analysis, 
of resolution into elements for the sake of recomposition, 
through equations and other functions. 

I pass by the evidence of the qualitative character of Greek 
science afforded by the central position of kinds or species in 
Peripatetic science. The instance is too obvious. More instruc- 
tive is the purely qualitative treatment of movements, especially 
as this is the matter that gives the clue to the revolution wrought 
by Galileo. Movement was a term covering all sorts of qualita- 
tive alterations, such as warm things becoming cold, growth 


from embryo to adult form, etc. It was never conceived of 
as merely motion, i.e., change of position in a homogeneous 
space. When we speak of a musical movement, or a political 
movement, we come close to the sense attached to the idea 
in ancient science : a series of changes 'tending to complete 
or perfect a qualitative whole and fulfil an end. 

Movement instead of continuing indefinitely spent itself; it 
tended inherently toward its own cessation, toward rest. The 
problem was not what external forces bring the arrow to a 
state of relative rest but what external forces, currents of air, 
etc., keep it moving and prevent its speedier attainment of 
its own natural goal, rest. Cessation of movement is either 
exhaustion, a kind of fatigue, or it marks the culmination of 
intrinsic proper being or essence. The heavenly bodies, just 
because they are heavenly, and therefore quasi-divine, are 
unwearied, never tiring, and so keep up their ceaseless round. 
For rest when it meant fulfilment was not dead quiescence but 
complete and therefore unchanging movement. Only thought 
is completely possessed of this perfect self-activity; but the 
constant round of heavenly bodies is the nearest physical 
manifestation of the self-enclosed changeless activity of thought, 
which discovers nothing, learns nothing, effects nothing, but 
eternally revolves upon itself. 

The treatment of place or rather places is the counter- 
part of this qualitative diversification of movements. There is 
movement up from the earth, in the measure of their lightness, 
of those things which belong in the upper spaces; a downward 
movement to the earth of those things which because of their 
grossness attain their end and arrive at their home only in the 
gross and relatively cold earth. To the intermediate regions is 
appropriate neither upward nor downward movement but the 
back and forth and wavering movement characteristic of winds 
and the (apparent) motions of the planets. As the cold and 
heavy moves down, the light and fiery, the finest material, 
moves upward. The stars of the firmament being the most 


nearly divine, the most purged of the irregular and merely 
potential, pursue that undeviating circular course which is the 
nearest approach hi nature to the eternal self-activity of 
thought, which is at once beyond nature and its culmination 
or "final cause". 

These details are mentioned to make clear the completely 
qualitative character of antique science. There was no conflict 
with ideas about values, because the qualities belonging to 
objects of science are values ; they are the things we enjoy and 
prize. Throughout nature as a qualitative whole there is a 
hierarchy of forms from those of lower value to those of 
higher. The revolution in science effectively initiated by 
Galileo consisted precisely in the abolition of qualities as traits 
of scientific objects as such. From this elimination proceeded 
just that conflict and need of reconciliation between the 
scientific properties of the real and those which give moral 
authority. Therefore to apprehend what the new astronomy 
and physics did for human beliefs, we have to place it in its 
contrast with the older natural science, in which the qualities 
possessed by objects of scientific knowledge were precisely the 
same as those possessed by works of art, the properties which 
are one with beauty and with all that is admirable. 

The work of Galileo was not a development, but a revolu- 
tion. It marked a change from the qualitative to the quantita- 
tive or metric; from the heterogeneous to the homogeneous; 
from intrinsic forms to relations; from aesthetic harmonies 
to mathematical formulae; from contemplative enjoyment to 
active manipulation and control; from rest to change; from 
eternal objects to temporal sequence. The idea of a two-realm 
scheme persisted for moral and religious purposes ; it vanished 
for purposes of natural science. The higher realm which had 
been the object of true science became the exclusive habitat of 
objects connected with values that in their relation to man 
furnish the norm and end of human destiny. The lower realm 
of change which had been the subject of opinion and practice 


became the sole and only object of natural science. The realm 
in which opinion held sway was no longer a genuine although 
inferior portion of objective being. It was a strictly human 
product, due to ignorance and error. Such was the philosophy 
which, because of the new science, replaced the old metaphysics. 
But and this "but" is of fundamental importance in spite 
of the revolution, the old conceptions of knowledge as related 
to an antecedent reality and of moral regulation as derived 
from properties of this reality, persisted. 

Neither the scientific nor the philosophic change came at 
once, even after experimental inquiry was initiated. In fact, as 
we shall see later, philosophy proceeded conservatively by 
compromise and accommodation, and was read into the new 
science, so that not till our own generation did science free 
itself from some basic factors of the older conception of nature. 
Much of the scientific revolution was implicit, however, in the 
conclusions which Galileo drew from his two most famous 
experiments. The one with falling bodies at the tower of Pisa 
destroyed the old distinction of intrinsic qualitative differences 
of gravity and levity, and thus gave an enormous shock to the 
qualitative explanatory principles of science. It thus tended to 
undermine the description and explanation of natural phe- 
nomena in terms of heterogeneous qualities. For it showed 
that the immanent motion of bodies was connected with a 
common homogeneous property, one measured by their re- 
sistance to being set in motion and to having their motion 
arrested or deflected when ones set in operation. This property, 
called inertia, was finally identified by Newton with mass, so 
that mass or inertia became the scientific definition or stable 
co-efficient of matter, in complete indifference to the qualitative 
differentiations of wet-dry, hot-cold, which were henceforth 
things to be explained by means of mass and motion, not 
fundamental explanatory principles. 

Taken in isolation, it is conceivable that this result would 
have been only a shock, or at most a ferment. Not so, however, 


when it was connected with his experiment of balls rolling 
down a smooth inclined plane (of which his experiment with 
the pendulum was a variation), the nearest approximation he 
could make to observation of freely falling bodies. His purpose 
was to determine the relation of the measured time of falling 
to the measured space passed through. Observed results con- 
firmed the hypothesis he had previously formed, namely, that 
the space traversed is proportional to the square of the elapsed 
time. If we forget the background of Peripatetic science against 
which this conclusion was projected, it appears as a mathe- 
matical determination of acceleration, and in connection with 
the concept of mass, as affording a new and accurate definition 
of force. This result is highly important. But apart from the 
classic background of beliefs about nature, it would have been 
of the same type as important discoveries in physics to-day. 
In its opposition to the basic ideas of Peripatetic science, it 
ushered in the scientific revolution. Galileo's conclusions were 
absolutely fatal to the traditional conception that all bodies in 
motion come naturally to rest because of their own intrinsic 
tendency to fulfil an inherent nature. The ingenious mind of 
Galileo used his results to show that if a body moving on a 
horizontal plane, not subjected to the independent force of 
uniform gravity, were substituted for the body on an inclined 
plane, it would when once set in motion continue in motion 
indefinitely the idea later formulated in Newton's first law 
of motion. 

The revolution opened the way to description and expla- 
nation of natural phenomena on the basis of homogeneous 
space, time, mass and motion. Our discussion is not an account 
of the historic development, and details are passed over. But 
some of the generic results which followed must be summarily 
mentioned. Galileo's conclusion did not at first affect the tra- 
dition that bodies at rest remained at rest. But his logic and 
the further use of his methods showed that when a gross 
body is brought to rest, motion is transferred to its own 


particles and to those of the body which checked its movement. 
Thus heat became subject to mechanical treatment, and in the 
end the conversion of mechanical motion, heat, light, electricity 
into one another without loss of energy was established. Then 
it was shown by Newton, following Copernicus and Huygens, 
that the movements of the planets obey the same mechanical 
laws of mass and acceleration as mundane bodies. Heavenly 
bodies and movements were brought under the same laws 
as are found in terrestrial phenomena. The idea of the 
difference in kind between phenomena in different parts of 
space was abolished. All that counted for science became 
mechanical properties formulated in mathematical terms: 
the significance of mathematical formulation marking the 
possibility of complete equivalence or homogeneity of 
translation of different phenomena into one another's 

From the standpoint of the doctrine that the purpose of 
knowledge is to grasp reality and that the object of cognition 
and real objects are synonymous terms, there was but one 
conclusion possible. This, in the words of a recent writer, was 
that "the Newtonian astronomy revealed the whole heavenly 
realm as a dark and limitless emptiness wherein dead matter 
moved under the impulse of insensate forces, and thus finally 
destroyed the poetic dream of ages". 1 

The conclusion holds good, however, only under condition 
that the premise be held to. If and as far as the qualitative 
world was taken to be an object of knowledge, and not of 
experience in some other form than knowing, and as far as 
knowing was held to be the standard or sole valid mode of 
experiencing, the substitution of Newtonian for Greek science 
(the latter being but a rationalized arrangement of the quali- 
tatively enjoyed world of direct experience) signified that the 
properties that render the world one of delight, admiration and 

1 Barry, The Scientific Habit of Mind, New York, 1927, p. 249. I owe 
much more to this volume than this particular quotation. 


esteem have been done away with. There is, however, another 
interpretation possible. A philosophy which holds that we 
experience things as they really are apart from knowing, and 
that knowledge is a mode of experiencing things which facilitates 
control of objects for purposes of non-cognitive experiences, 
will come to another conclusion. 

To go into this matter at this point would, however, antici- 
pate later discussion. Consequently we confine comment here 
to the one question: Just what did the new experimental 
method do to the qualitative objects of ordinary experience? 
Forget the conclusions of Greek philosophy, put out of the mind 
all theories about knowledge and about reality. Take the simple 
direct facts: Here are the coloured, resounding, fragrant, 
lovable, attractive, beautiful things of nature which we enjoy, 
and which we suffer when they are hateful, ugly, disgusting. 
Just what is the effect upon them wrought by physical science ? 

If we consent for the time being to denude the mind of 
philosophical and metaphysical presuppositions, and take the 
matter in the most simple and naive way possible, I think our 
answer, stated in technical terms, will be that it substitutes data 
for objects. (It is not meant that this outcome is the whole 
effect of the experimental method ; that as we saw at the outset 
is complex; but that the first effect as far as stripping away 
qualities is concerned is of this nature.) That Greek science 
operated with objects in the sense of the stars, rocks, trees, rain, 
warm and cold days of ordinary experience is evident enough. 
What is signified by saying that the first effect of experimenta- 
tion was to reduce these things from the status of objects to 
that of data may not be so clear. 1 By data is signified subject- 
matter for further interpretation; something to be thought 
about. Objects are finalities; they are complete, finished; they 
call for thought only in the way of definition, classification, 
^ogical arrangement, subsumption in syllogisms, etc. But data 

1 For this shift from objects to data see G. H. Mead's essay in the 
volume entitled Creative Intelligence. New York, 1917. 


signify "material to serve"; they are indications, evidence, 
signs, clues to and of something still to be reached; they are 
intermediate, not ultimate ; means, not finalities. 

In a less technical way the matter may be stated as follows : 
The subject-matter which had been taken as satisfying the 
demands of knowledge, as the material with which to frame 
solutions, became something which set problems. Hot and cold, 
wet and dry, light and heavy, instead of being self-evident 
matters with which to explain phenomena, were things to be 
investigated; they were "effects", not causal principles; they 
set question marks instead of supplying answers. The differences 
between the earth, the region of the planets, and the heavenly 
ether, instead of supplying ultimate principles which could be 
used to mark off and classify things, were something to be 
explained and to bring under identical principles. Greek and 
mediaeval science formed an art of accepting things as they are 
enjoyed and suffered. Modern experimental science is an art 
of control. 

The remarkable difference between the attitude which 
accepts the objects of ordinary perception, use and enjoyment 
as final, as culminations of natural processes, and that which 
takes them as starting-points for reflection and investigation, 
is one which reaches far beyond the technicalities of science. 
It marks a revolution in the whole spirit of life, in the entire 
attitude taken toward whatever is found in existence. When 
the things which exist around us, which we touch, see, hear 
and taste, are regarded as interrogations for which an answer 
must be sought (and must be sought by means of deliberate 
introduction of changes till they are reshaped into something 
different), nature as it already exists ceases to be something 
which must be accepted and submitted to, endured or en- 
joyed, just as it is. It is now something to be modified, to be 
intentionally controlled. It is material to act upon so as to 
transform it into new objects which better answer our needs. 
Nature as it exists at any particular time is a challenge, rather 



than a completion; it provides possible starting-points and 
opportunities rather than final ends. 

In short, there is a change from knowing as an aesthetic 
enjoyment of the properties of nature regarded as a work of 
divine art, to knowing as a means of secular control that is, 
a method of purposefully introducing changes which will alter 
the direction of the course of events. Nature as it exists at a 
given time is material for arts to be brought to bear upon it to 
reshape it, rather than already a finished work of art. Thus 
the changed attitude toward change to which reference was 
made has a much wider meaning than that which the new 
science offered as a technical pursuit. When correlations of 
changes are made the goal of knowledge, the fulfilment of its 
aim in discovery of these correlations is equivalent to placing 
in our hands an instrument of control. When one change is 
given, and we know with measured accuracy its connection with 
another change, we have the potential means of producing or 
averting that other event. The aesthetic attitude is of necessity 
directed to what is already there; to what is finished, com- 
plete. The attitude of control looks to the future, to pro- 

The same point is stated in another way in saying that the 
reduction of given objects to data for a knowing or an investi- 
gation still to be undertaken liberates man from subjection to 
the past. The scientific attitude, as an attitude of interest in 
change instead of interest in isolated and complete fixities, is 
necessarily alert for problems ; every new question is an oppor- 
tunity for further experimental inquiries for effecting more 
directed change. There is nothing which a scientific mind 
would more regret than reaching a condition in which there 
were no more problems. That state would be the death of 
science, not its perfected life. We have only to contrast this 
disposition with that which prevails in morals and politics to 
realize the difference which has already been made, as well as 
to appreciate how limited its development still is. For in higher 


practical matters we still live in dread of change and of prob- 
lems. Like men of olden time with respect to natural phe- 
nomena we prefer to accept and endure or to enjoy as the 
case may happen to be what is, what we find in possession 
of the field, and at most, to arrange it under concepts, and 
thus give it the form of rationality. 

Before the rise of experimental method, change was simply 
an inevitable evil; the world of phenomenal existence, that is 
of change, while an inferior realm compared with the change- 
less, was nevertheless there and had to be accepted practically 
as it happened to occur. The wise man if he were sufficiently 
endowed by fortune would have as little to do with such things 
as possible, turning away from them to the rational realm. 
Qualitative forms and complete ends determined by nature 
are not amenable to human control. They are grateful when 
they happen to be enjoyed, but for human purposes nature 
means fortune, and fortune is the contrary of art. A good that 
happens is welcome. Goods, however, can be made secure in 
existence only through regulation of processes of change, a 
regulation dependent upon knowledge of their relations. While 
the abolition of fixed tendencies toward definite ends has been 
mourned by many as if it involved a despiritualization of 
nature, it is in fact a precondition of the projection of new ends 
and of the possibility of realizing them through intentional 
activity. Objects which are not fixed goals of nature and 
which have no inherent defining forms become candidates for 
receiving new qualities ; mens for serving new purposes. Until 
natural objects were denuded of determinate ends which were 
regarded as the proper outcome of the intrinsic tendency of 
nature's own operations, nature could not become a plastic 
material of human desires and purposes. 

Such considerations as these are implicit in that changed 
attitude which by experimental analysis reduces objects to data: 
the aim of science becomes discovery of constant relations 
among changes in place of definition of objects immutable 


beyond the possibility of alteration. It is interested in the 
mechanism of occurrences instead of in final causes. In dealing 
with the proximate instead of with the ultimate, knowledge 
deals with the world in which we live, the world which is 
experienced, instead of attempting through the intellect to 
escape to a higher realm. Experimental knowledge is a mode 
of doing, and like all doing takes place at a time, in a place, 
and under specifiable conditions in connection with a definite 

The notion that the findings of science are a disclosure of 
the inherent properties of the ultimate real, of existence at 
large, is a survival of the older metaphysics. It is because of 
injection of an irrelevant philosophy into interpretation of the 
conclusions of science that the latter are thought to eliminate 
qualities and values from nature. Thus is created the standing 
problem of modern philosophy : the relation of science to the 
things we prize and love and which have authority in the direc- 
tion of conduct. The same injection, in treating the results of 
mathematical-mechanistic science as a definition of natural 
reality in its own intrinsic nature, accounts for the antagonism 
shown to naturalism, and for the feeling that it is the business 
of philosophy to demonstrate the being of a realm beyond 
nature, one not subject to the conditions which mark all natural 
objects. Drop the conception that knowledge is knowledge only 
when it is a disclosure and definition of the properties of fixed 
and antecedent reality ; interpret the aim and test of knowing 
by what happens in the actual procedures of scientific inquiry, 
and the supposed need and problem vanish. 
\ For scientific inquiry always starts from things of the 
environment experienced in our everyday life, with things we 
see, handle, use, enjoy and suffer from. This is the ordinary 
qualitative world. But instead of accepting the qualities and 
values the ends and forms of this world as providing the 
objects of knowledge, subject to their being given a certain 
logical arrangement, experimental inquiry treats them as 


offering a challenge to thought. They are the materials of 
problems, not of solutions. They are to be known, rather 
than objects of knowledge. The first step in knowing is to 
locate the problems which need solution. This step is per- 
formed by altering obvious and given qualities. These are 
effects; they are things to be understood, and they are under- 
stood in terms of their generation. The search for "efficient 
causes" instead of for final causes, for extrinsic relations in- 
stead of intrinsic forms, constitutes the aim of science. But the 
search does not signify a quest for reality in contrast with 
experience of the unreal and phenomenal. It signifies a search 
for those relations upon which the occurrence of real qualities 
and values depends, by means of which we can regulate their 
occurrence. To call existences as they are directly and quali- 
tatively experienced "phenomena" is not to assign to them a 
metaphysical status. It is to indicate that they set the problem 
of ascertaining the relations of interaction upon which their 
occurrence depends. 

It is unnecessary that knowledge should be concerned with 
existence as it is directly experienced in its concrete qualities. 
Direct experiencing itself takes care of that matter. What 
science is concerned with is the happening of these experienced 
things. For its purpose, therefore, they are happenings, events. 
Its aim is to discover the conditions and consequences of their 
happening. And this discovery can take place only by modify- 
ing the given qualities in such ways that relations become mani- 
fest. We shall see later that these relations constitute the 
proper objects of science as such. We are here concerned to 
emphasize the fact that elimination of the qualities of experi- 
enced existence is merely an intermediate step necessary to 
the discovery of relations, and that when it is accomplished the 
scientific object becomes the means of control of occurrence of 
experienced things having a richer and more secure equipment 
of values and qualities. 

Only when the older theory of knowledge and metaphysics 


is retained is science thought to inform us that nature in its 
true reality is but an interplay of masses in motion, without 
sound, colour, or any quality of enjoyment and use. What 
science actually does is to show that any natural object we 
please may be treated in terms of relations upon which its 
occurrence depends, or as an event, and that by so treating it 
we are enabled to get behind, as it were, the immediate quali- 
ties the object of direct experience presents, and to regulate 
their happening, instead of having to wait for conditions 
beyond our control to bring it about. Reduction of experienced 
objects to the form of relations, which are neutral as respects 
qualitative traits, is a prerequisite of ability to regulate the 
course of change, so that it may terminate in the occurrence of 
an object having desired qualities. 

As long, for example, as water is taken to be just the thing 
which we directly experience it to be, we can put it to a few 
direct uses, such as drinking, washing, etc. Beyond heating it 
there was little that could be done purposefully to change its 
properties. When, however, water is treated not as the glisten- 
ing, rippling object with the variety of qualities that delight 
the eye, ear and palate, but as something symbolized by H 2 O, 
something from which these qualities are completely absent, it 
becomes amenable to all sorts of other modes of control and 
adapted to other uses. Similarly, when steam and ice are no 
longer treated as what they are in their qualitative differences 
from one another in direct experience, but as homogeneous 
molecules moving at measured velocities through specified 
distances, differential qualities that were barriers to effective 
regulations, as long as they were taken as finalities, are done 
away with. A single way of acting with respect to them in spite 
of their differences is indicated. This mode of action is capable 
of extension to other bodies, in principle to any bodies irre- 
spective of qualitative differences of solid, liquid and gaseous, 
provided they are given a like mathematical formulation. 
Thus all sorts of modes of expansion and contraction, of 


refrigeration and evaporation, of production and regulation of 
explosive power, become possible. From the practical stand- 
point, bodies become aggregates of energies to be used in all 
kinds of ways, involving all sorts of substitutions, transforma- 
tions, combinations and separations. But the object of direct 
or perceptible experience remains the same qualitative object, 
enjoyable and usable, it always was. Water as an object of 
science, as H 2 O with all the other scientific propositions which 
can be made about it, is not a rival for position in real being 
with the water we see and use. It is, because of experimental 
operations, an added instrumentality of multiplied controls and 
uses of the real things of everyday experience. 

I am aware that this method of dealing with the great 
problem of modern philosophy will be regarded by many as 
too cavalier a disposition of a great issue ; the solution if there 
be any (and many thinkers would perhaps feel any solution to 
be a real deprivation) is too simple and easy to be satisfactory. 
But I shall be content if the account leads anyone to recon- 
sider the traditional beliefs which stand in the way of accept- 
ance of the solution that is proposed. These preconceptions 
are the assumption that knowledge has a uniquely privileged 
position as a mode of access to reality in comparison with 
other modes of experience, and that as such it is superior to 
practical activity. Both of these ideas were formulated in a 
period when knowing was regarded as something which could 
be effected exclusively by means of the rational powers of 
mind. The development of scientific inquiry with its complete 
dependence upon experimentation has proved the profound 
error of the latter position. Is it not time to revise the philo- 
sophical conceptions which are founded on a belief now 
proved to be false? The sum and substance of the present 
argument is that if we frame our conception of knowledge on 
the experimental model, we find that it is a way of operating 
upon and with the things of ordinary experience so that we 
can frame our ideas of them in terms of their interactions 


with one another, instead of in terms of the qualities they 
directly present, and that thereby our control of them, our 
ability to change them and direct their changes as we desire, 
is indefinitely increased. Knowing is itself a mode of practical 
action and is the way of interaction by which other natural 
interactions become subject to direction. Such is the significance 
of the experimental method as far as we have as yet traced 
its course. 

As was stated at the beginning of this part of the discus- 
sion, the examination of scientific knowing is undertaken not 
so much for its own sake as in order to supply material for pro- 
jecting a hypothesis about something less technical and of 
wider and more liberal application. The ulterior issue is the 
possibility that actual experience in its concrete content and 
movement may furnish those ideals, meanings and values 
whose lack and uncertainty in experience as actually lived by 
most persons has supplied the motive force for recourse to 
some reality beyond experience: a lack and uncertainty that 
account for the continued hold of traditional philosophical 
and religious notions which are not consonant with the main 
tenor of modern life. The pattern supplied by scientific know- 
ing shows that in this one field at least it is possible for 
experience, in becoming genuinely experimental, to develop its 
own regulative ideas and standards. Not only this, but in 
addition the progress of knowledge of nature has become 
secure and steady only because of this transformation. The 
conclusion is a good omen for the possibility of achieving in 
larger, more humane and liberal fields a similar transformation, 
so that a philosophy of experience may be empirical without 
either being false to actual experience or being compelled to 
explain away the values dearest to the heart of man. 


OF ALL PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS that which concerns the nature 
and worth of ideas is probably the one that most readily appeals 
to any cultivated mind. The eulogistic flavour which hangs 
about the word Idealism is a tribute to the respect men pay to 
thought and its power. The obnoxious quality of materialism 
is due to its depression of thought, which is treated as an 
illusion or at most an accidental by-product ; materialism leaves 
no place where ideas have creative or regulative effect. In some 
sense the cause of ideas, of thought, is felt to be that of the 
distinctive dignity of man himself. Serious minds have always 
desired a world in which experiences would be productive of 
ideas, of meanings, and in which these ideas in turn would 
regulate conduct. Take away ideas and what follows from them 
and man seems no better than the beasts of the field. 

It is, however, an old story that philosophers have divided 
into opposed schools as to the nature of ideas and their power. 
To the extreme right are those who, under the banner of 
Idealism, have asserted that thought is the creator of the 
universe and that rational ideas constitute its structure. This 
constitutive work, however, is something done once for all by 
thought in a transcendental aboriginal work. The empirical 
world in which we live from day by day is crass and obdurate, 
stubbornly un-ideal in character because it is only an appear- 
ance of the reality of which thought is the author. This 
philosophic mode of paying reverence to ideas is thus com- 
pensatory rather than vital. It has nothing to do with rendering 
the natural and social environment of our experience a more 
ideal abode, namely, one characterized by meanings which arc 
the fruits of thought. There are those who would be willing 
to exchange the thought which constitutes reality once for all 
for that thinking which by continued particular acts renden 


our experienced world here and now more charged with 
coherent and luminous meanings. 

At the other pole is the school of sensational empiricists who 
hold that the doctrine that thought in any mode of operation 
is originative is an illusion. It proclaims the necessity of direct, 
first-hand contact with things as the source of all knowledge. 
Ideas are pale ghosts of flesh-and-blood impressions ; they are 
images, pallid reflections, dying echoes of first-hand intercourse 
with reality which takes place in sensation alone. 

In spite of the polar opposition between the two schools, 
they depend upon a common premise. According to both 
systems of philosophy, reflective thought, thinking that involves 
inference and judgment, is not originative. It has its test in 
antecedent reality as that is disclosed in some non-reflective 
immediate knowledge. Its validity depends upon the possibility 
of checking its conclusions by identification with the terms of 
such prior immediate knowledge. The controversy between the 
schools is simply as to the organ and nature of previous direct 
knowledge. To both schools, reflection, thought involving in- 
ference, is reproductive; the "proof" of its results is found in 
comparison with what is known without any inference. In 
traditional empiricism the test is found in sensory impressions. 
For objective idealism, reflective inquiry is valid only as it 
reproduces the work previously effected by constitutive thought. 
The goal of human thinking is approximation to the reality 
already instituted by absolute reason. The basic premise is also 
shared by realists. The essence of their position is that reflective 
inquiry is valid as it terminates in apprehension of that which 
already exists. When thinking introduces any modification into 
antecedent reality it falls into error ; in fact, productive origina- 
tion on the part of mind defines error. 

The issue is connected with the analysis of experimental 
knowing which was begun in the preceding chapter. For the 
common premise of these philosophical schools, so opposed to 
one another in most ways, goes back to adoption of the idea 


about knowledge in relation to what is independently real 
which, originating in Greek thought, has become engrained in 
tradition. In our summary of the characteristics of experimental 
thinking, its second trait was said to be the direction of experi- 
ment by ideas, the fact that experiment is not random, aimless 
action, but always includes, along with groping and relatively 
blind doing, an element of deliberate foresight and intent, 
which determines that one operation rather than another be 
tried. In this chapter we shall, accordingly, consider the 
implications for the theory of ideas that follow from experi- 
mental method. Let us suppose, for the time being, that all 
that we can know about ideas is derived from the way in which 
they figure in the reflective inquiries of science. What concep- 
tion of their nature and office shall we then be led to form ? 

We shall begin, somewhat abruptly, with a statement of the 
nature of conceptions which has been framed on the basis of 
recent conclusions in physical science. We shall then compare 
this idea about ideas with that which was embodied in the 
Newtonian philosophy of nature and science, and take up the 
reasons which compelled the abandonment of the latter, 
Finally we shall recur to a comparison of the result reached 
with the doctrine embodied in traditional philosophies one 
that is identical with that found in the now discredited New- 
tonian natural philosophy. 

The position of present science on this matter has been 
stated as follows: "To find the length of an object, we have 
to perform certain physical operations. The concept of length 
is therefore fixed when the operations by which length is 
measured are fixed ; that is, the concept of length involves as 
much as and nothing more than the set of operations by which 
length is determined. In general, we mean by any concept 
nothing more than a set of operations ; the concept is synonymous 
with the corresponding set of operations" 1 The same idea is 

1 Bridgman, The Logic of Modern Physics, New York, 1927, p. 5. 
The italics are in the text. 


repeated by Eddington in his Gifford Lectures. His statement 
is as follows: "The vocabulary of the physicist comprises a 
number of words such as length, angle, velocity, force, potential, 
current, etc., which we call 'physical quantities'. It is now 
recognized that these should be defined according to the way 
in which we recognize them when actually confronted with 
them, and not according to the metaphysical significance 
which we may have anticipated for them. In the old text-books 
mass was defined as 'quantity of matter'; but when it came to 
an actual determination of mass, an experimental method was 
prescribed which had no bearing on this definition." 1 The 
adoption of this point of view with respect to the meaning and 
content of thinking, and as to the validity or soundness of the 
ideas by means of which we understand natural events, makes 
possible what has been lacking throughout the history of 
thought, a genuinely experimental empiricism. The phrase 
"experimental empiricism" sounds redundant. It ought to be 
so in fact, since the adjective and the noun should have the 

1 The Nature of the Physical World y London and New York, 1928, 
p. 255. It is implied in the quotation that concepts are recognized by 
means of the experimental operations by which they are determined ; 
/that is, operations define and test the validity of the meanings by which 
/we state natural happenings. This implication is made explicit a few 
sentences further along, when in speaking of Einstein Mr. Eddington 
says his theory * 'insists that each physical quantity should be defined 
as the result of certain operations of measurement and calculation'*. 
The principle is anticipated in Peirce's essay on How to Make Our 
Ideas Clear, published as far back as 1881 now reprinted in a volume 
of essays, edited by Morris R. Cohen, and entitled Chance, Love and 
Logic, New York, 1923. Peirce states that the sole meaning of the idea 
of an object consists of the consequences which result when the object 
is acted upon in a particular way. The principle is one element in the 
pragmatism of James. The idea is also akin to the "instrumental" 
theory of conceptions, according to which they are intellectual instru- 
ments for directing our activities in relation to existence. The principle 
of "extensive abstraction" as a mode of defining things is similar in 
import. On account of ambiguities in the notion of pragmatism 
although its logical import is identical I shall follow Bridgman in 
speaking of "operational thinking". 


same significance, so that nothing is gained by using the two 
terms. But historically such is not the case. For, historically, 
empirical philosophies have been framed in terms of sensations 
or sense data. These have been said to be the material out of 
which ideas are framed and by agreement with which they are 
to be tested. Sensory qualities are the antecedent models with 
which ideas must agree if they are to be sound or "proved". 1 
These doctrines have always evoked an abundance of criticisms. 
But the criticisms have taken the form of depreciating the 
capacity of * 'experience" to provide the source and test of our 
fundamentally important ideas in either knowledge or morals. 
They have used the weaknesses of sensational empiricism to 
reinforce the notion that ideas are framed by reason apart from 
any experience whatsoever; to support what is known in the 
vocabulary of philosophical systems as an a priori rationalism. 

From the standpoint of the operational definition and tests 
of ideas, ideas have an empirical origin and status. But it is 
that of acts performed, acts in the literal and existential sense 
of the word, deeds done, not reception of sensations forced on 
us from without. Sensory qualities are important. But they are 
intellectually significant only as consequences of acts intention- 
ally performed. A colour seen at a particular locus in a spectral 
band is, for example, of immense intellectual importance in 
chemistry and in astro-physics. But merely as seen, as a bare 
sensory quality, it is the same for the clodhopper and the 
scientist; in either case, it is the product of a direct sensory 
excitation; it is just and only another colour the eye has 
happened upon. To suppose that its cognitive value can be 
eked out or supplied by associating it with other sensory 
qualities of the same nature as itself, is like supposing that by 

1 The whole empirical logic of Mill professedly, and as far as 
consistent with itself, is an endeavour to show that all propositions 
involving reflection and ideas must be proved, or demonstrated to be 
true, by reduction to propositions consisting only of material directly 
given in sensation. 


putting a pile of sand in the eye we can get rid of the irritation 
caused by a single grain. To suppose, on the other hand, that 
we must appeal to a synthetic activity of an independent 
thought to give the quality meaning in and for knowledge, is 
like supposing that by thinking in our heads we can convert a 
pile of bricks into a building. Thinking, carried on inside the 
head, can make some headway in forming the plan of a building. 
But it takes actual operations to which the plan, as the fruit of 
thought, gives instrumental guidance to make a building out 
of separate bricks, or to transform an isolated sensory quality 
into a significant clue to knowledge of nature. 

Sensory qualities experienced through vision have their 
cognitive status and office, not (as sensational empiricism holds) 
in and of themselves in isolation, or as merely forced upon 
attention, but because they are the consequences of definite 
and intentionally performed operations. Only in connection 
with the intent, or idea, of these operations do they amount to 
anything, either as disclosing any fact or giving test and proof 
of any theory. The rationalist school was right in as far as it 
insisted that sensory qualities are significant for knowledge 
only when connected by means of ideas. But they were wrong 
in locating the connecting ideas in intellect apart from experi- 
ence. Connection is instituted through operations which define 
ideas, and operations are as much matters of experience as are 
sensory qualities. 

It is not too much to say, therefore, that for the first time 
there is made possible an empirical theory of ideas free from 
the burdens imposed alike by sensationalism and a priori 
rationalism. This accomplishment is, I make bold to say, one 
of three or four outstanding feats of intellectual history. For it 
emancipates us from the supposed need of always harking back 
to what has already been given, something had by alleged 
direct or immediate knowledge in the past, for the test of the 
value of ideas. A definition of the nature of ideas in terms of 


ideas by _the consequence^ these operations establishes con- 
nectivity within concrete experience. At the same time, by 
emancipation of thinking from the necessity of testing its 
conclusions solely by reference to antecedent existence it makes 
clear the originative possibilities of thinking. 

John Locke has always been the central figure in the empirical 
school. With extraordinary thoroughness he laid the foundations 
of that empirical logic which tests the validity of every belief 
about natural existence by the possibility of resolving the con- 
tent of the belief into simple ideas originally received through 
the senses. If we want to know what "solidity" or any other 
idea is, we are, in his own words, "sent to the senses". In 
developing this theory of the origin and test of our natural 
knowledge (for he excepted mathematical and moral ideas) he 
found himself building upon the foundation laid by his illus- 
trious contemporary, Sir Isaac Newton. The latter was con- 
vinced of the unsoundness of the rationalistic philosophy of 
science represented by Descartes, for a time the great rival of 
Newton for supremacy in the scientific world. Newton's own 
use of mathematics and also his conception of gravitation (with 
some other of his physical ideas) exposed him, however, to the 
charge of reviving the "occult essences" of scholasticism. 
Accordingly, he was very emphatic upon the point that he was 
thoroughly empirical in premises, method and conclusions; 
empirical in that he had gone to his senses and taken what he 
found there as the origin and justification of his primary 
scientific ideas about nature. As we shall see, certain assump- 
tions of Newton were in fact far from empirical in any experi- 
mental sense of that word, but were introduced by him into 
the philosophical foundations of natural science and were 
thence taken over into the whole philosophic theory of science 
to be questioned only in our own day. 

No saying of Newton's is more widely known than that "I 
do not invent hypotheses". This is only his negative way of 
asserting complete reliance upon a subject-matter guaranteed 


by the senses which in turn signifies, as we have just said, 
that all scientific ideas go back to sense-perceptions previously 
had for both their origin and their warrant. We shall consider 
first the effect of Newton's procedure upon the supposed 
foundations of natural science, and then consider how the 
recognition of an operational and relational definition of 
scientific conceptions instead of a discrete and sensory one has 
destroyed those foundations. 

While Newton employed mathematical conceptions with a 
freedom equal to that of Descartes and with a heuristic power 
far exceeding Descartes, he differentiated his own method 
from that of the latter by insisting that the objects to which 
his mathematical calculations applied were not products of 
thought, but were given, as far as the properties which figured 
in his science were concerned, in sense. That is, he did not claim 
that he could sensibly observe the ultimate particles or atoms 
which were the foundation of his system, but he did claim 
that he had sensible grounds for assuming their existence, and 
especially he insisted that all the properties with which his 
scientific theory endowed these particles were derived from and 
were verifiable in direct sense-perception. In his own words: 
"Whatever is not derived from phenomena is to be called a 
hypothesis, and hypotheses . . . have no place in experimental 
philosophy." The positive counterpart of this negative state- 
ment is as follows: "The qualities of bodies which admit of 
neither intension nor remission of degree and which are 
found to belong to all bodies within the reach of experi- 
ments, are to be assumed the universal qualities of all bodies 

Newton's assumption that he was only extending to the 
ultimate proper objects of physical science those qualities of 
experienced objects that are disclosed in direct perception is 
made evident by such passages as the following: "We no other 
way know the extension of bodies than by our senses, nor do 
these reach it in all bodies. But because we perceive extension 


in all bodies that are sensible, therefore we ascribe it universally 
to all others also. That abundance of bodies are hard, we learn 
by experience; and because the hardness of the whole arises 
from the hardness of the parts, we therefore justly infer the 
hardness of the undivided particles not only of the bodies we 
feel but of all others. That all bodies are impenetrable we 
gather not from reason but from sensation. . . . That all 
bodies are movable and are endued with certain powers (which 
we call the vires inertiae) of persevering in their motion or in 
their rest we only infer from like properties observed in the 
bodies that we have seen/' Or as Newton says of his "prin- 
ciples", summing it all up: "I consider them not as occult 
qualities but as general laws of nature . . . their truth appear- 
ing to us by phenomena" The principles in question were 
mass, gravity, hardness, impenetrability, extension, motion, 
inertia, etc. 

The essential point of his argument is that non-sensible 
bodies, namely, the ultimate particles to which mathematical 
reasoning applies, are endowed with no properties save those 
which are found by experience to belong to all bodies of which 
we do have sensible experience. The static (spatial extension, 
volume) qualities, and the dynamic properties (resistance, per- 
severance in motion) of ultimate physical realities, are homo- 
geneous with the common qualities of sensibly perceived 
things. Colour, sound, heat, odour, etc., go out, since they 
permit of absence, and of remission and increase of degrees or 
are not universally present. Volume, mass, inertia, motion and 
movability, remain as universal qualities. What would happen 
if some raised the objection that the existence of the ultimate 
particles is hypothetical, since they are not observed? What 
becomes of his empiricism even if the properties ascribed to 
particles are all sensibly verified, provided the bearers of these 
properties are not observed ? It can hardly be said that Newton 
explicitly discusses this question. It seemed to him practically 
self-evident that since sensible bodies were divisible without 



losing the properties that form his "principles", we are entitled 
to assume the existence of certain last particles of the same 
kind incapable of further division. And while, in logical con- 
sistency, he could hardly have admitted the argument, the fact 
that he found that he could "explain" actual occurrences on 
the basis of this assumption seemed to give him ample confirma- 
tion of their existence. Perhaps in the following passage he 
comes as near as anywhere to dealing explicitly with the point. 
After saying that if all particles, all bodies whatever, were 
capable of being broken, they would then wear away, he goes 
on to say that in that case the "nature of things depending on 
them would be changed", and adds "and therefore that nature 
may be lasting, the changes of corporeal things are to be placed 
only in the various separations and new associations and motions 
of these permanent particles". "So that nature may be lasting !" 
It would be hard to find a franker statement of the motive which 
controlled Newton's doctrine. There was needed some guar- 
antee that Nature would not go to pieces and be dissipated or 
revert to chaos. How could the unity of anything be secure 
unless there was something persistent and unchanging behind 
all change? Without such fixed indissoluble unities, no final 
certainty was possible. Everything was put in peril of dissolu- 
tion. These metaphysical fears rather than any experimental 
evidence determined the nature of the fundamental assump- 
tions of Newton regarding atoms. They furnished the premises 
which he regarded as scientific and as the very foundations of 
the possibility of science. "All changes are to be placed in only 
the separations and new associations of permanent particles." 
In this statement there is contained a professedly scientific 
restatement of the old human desire for something fixed as the 
warrant and object of absolute certainty. Without this fixity 
knowledge was impossible. Changes are to be known by treating 
them as indifferent spatial approaches and withdrawals taking 
place between things that are themselves eternally the same. 
Thus to establish certainty in existence and in knowledge, 


"God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hard, 
impenetrable particles". 

It was logically inevitable that as science proceeded on its 
experimental path it would sooner or later become clear that 
all conceptions, all intellectual descriptions, must be formu- 
lated in terms of operations, actual or imaginatively possible. 
There are no conceivable ways in which the existence of ulti- 
mate unchangeable substances which interact without under- 
going change in themselves can be reached by means of 
experimental operations. Hence they have no empirical, no 
experimental standing; they are pure dialectic inventions. 
They were not even necessary for application of the mathe- 
matical method of Newton. Most of his analytic work in his 
Principles would remain unchanged if his physical particles 
were dropped out and geometrical points were substituted. 
What reason can be assigned for Newton's desertion of an 
experimental method and for the adoption in its stead of an 
obviously dialectical conception? since the conception that 
the permanence of nature depends upon the assumption of a 
plurality of discrete immutable substances is clearly dialectical. 
Doubtless in part the reason was that the scheme worked or 
seemed to work. Without developing or acknowledging the 
consequences of this mode of justification, objections based 
on theory could always be met by pointing to the marvellous 
conclusions of physical inquiry. 

But a more fundamental reason was that the minds of men, 
including physical inquirers, were still possessed by the old 
notion that reality in order to be solid and firm must consist 
of those fixed immutable things which philosophy calls sub- 
stances. Changes could be known only if they could be somehow 
reduced to recombinations of original unchanging things. For 
these alone can be objects of certainty the changing is as such 
the uncertain and only the certain and exact is knowledge. 
Thus a popular metaphysics, given rational formulation by the 
Greeks, and taken over into the intellectual tradition of the 


western world, controlled at first the interpretations placed 
upon the procedures and conclusions of experimental knowing. 

This hypothesis as to the origin of the non-experimental 
factor in the Newtonian philosophy is confirmed by his own 
use of the metaphysics of the ideas of substance and essential 
properties. The fact that Newton adopted the Democritean 
rather than the Aristotelean conception of substance is of 
course of immense importance scientifically. But philosophically 
speaking it is of slight import compared with the fact that he 
followed the supposed necessities of dialectic reasoning rather 
than the lead of experienced subject-matter in accepting without 
question the notion that there must be at the foundation of all 
existence certain things which are intrinsically unchangeable, 
and that such immutable entities are the objects of any true 
knowledge because they give the warrant of fixed certitude. 

With his acceptance of the old doctrines of substances goes 
that of the doctrine of essence. If fixed unchangeable things 
exist, they must have certain inherent, unchangeable proper- 
ties. Changes are accidental and external; they occur between 
substances and do not affect their inner nature. If they did, 
substances would not be substances; they would change and 
rot away. Hence, in spite of starting upon the experimental 
and mathematical path, Newtonian science kept the idea that 
atoms are characterized by eternal properties or qualities, that 
is by essences. Substances are "solid, hard, massy, impenetrable, 
movable particles". Their essence is precisely these unchange- 
able, fixed qualities of solidity, mass, motion, inertia. 

It thus appears that Newton retained a part of the qualitative 
equipment of the objects of Greek science, in spite of their 
irrelevance to both mathematics and experiment. When one 
searches through philosophical commentary and discussion 
(based mainly on Locke's version of Newton's results), one 
finds a great deal of discussion about the fact that the so-called 
secondary qualities, colour, sound, odour, taste, were eliminated 
from "reality". But not a word as far as I can discover is said 


about the fact that other sensible qualities under the name of 
primary were retained in defining the object of science* And 
yet this retention is thefons et origo malorum. The actual fact 
was that science by means of its operational conceptions was 
instituting as its objects of thought things in a dimension 
different from any of the direct qualities of objects. It was not a 
question of getting rid of some immediate sense qualities ; but 
of a treatment indifferent to any and all qualities. Newton could 
not realize this fact, because he insisted that the existence of 
hard and fixed unchanging substances was the basis of science. 
Given such substances they had to have some qualities as their 
inherent properties. 

Hence Newton generously endowed them with those proper- 
ties which he insisted were directly taken from sense experience 
itself. Consider the consequences for subsequent thought. 
Getting rid of some qualities which had been regarded as 
essential to natural things while retaining others did not 
forward in the least the actual work of science, while it did 
work inevitably to establish a fixed gulf and opposition between 
the things of ordinary perception, use and enjoyment and the 
objects of science which, according to tradition, were the only 
ultimately "real" objects. The story of the extent to which this 
opposition became the underlying problem of modern philo- 
sophy need not be retold. Nor are we called upon here to 
consider the way in which it generated an "epistemological" 
problem of knowledge in the general terms of relation of subject 
and object, as distinct from the logical problem of the methods 
by which inquiry shall attain understanding. For qualities 
expelled from scientific objects were given an asylum "in the 
mind"; they became mental and psychical in nature, and the 
problem arose how mind composed of such elements, having 
nothing in common with objects of science by doctrinal 
definition the real things of nature could possibly reach ou 
and know their own opposites. In another connection, that 
result would provide a theme most important to discuss: 


from its origin in Berkeley's contention that since "secondary" 
qualities are avowedly mental and since primary qualities cannot 
be disassociated from them, the latter must be mental also, 
through all the sinuosities of modern thought in dealing with 
the "problem". But the first of these points, the rivalry of 
scientific objects and empirical objects for position in natural 
existence, has already been dealt with and the latter problem 
is not immediately relevant. 

We are here concerned with the Newtonian assumption that 
we must carry over into the conception and definition of physical 
objects some of the qualities directly experienced in sense- 
perception, while their presence in such sense-experience is the 
warrant or "proof" of their validity as ideas. There was no 
direct experience of the ultimate massy, hard, impenetrable and 
indivisible and hence unchangeable particles since indeed their 
eternal permanence obviously was a thing incapable of any 
experience except by some equally eternal mind. Hence these 
qualities must be thought, they must be inferred. In themselves 
they exist by themselves. But for us, they exist as objects of 
thought only. Hence as ideas they need a warrant and justifica- 
tion which primary qualities of immediate perception do not 
need, since these are self- warranting according to the doctrine. 

Now so deeply engrained are the conclusions of the old 
tradition of rationalism versus (sensationalistic) empiricism, 
that the question will still be raised : What other certification 
could be given or can now be given for the properties of 
scientific physical objects save by inferential extension of the 
universally found properties of all objects of sense-perception ? 
Is there any alternative unless we are prepared to fall back 
upon a priori rational conceptions supposed to bring their own 
sufficient authority with them ? 

It is at this point that the recent recognition that the con- 
ceptions by which we think scientific objects are derived neither 
from sense nor from a priori conceptions has its logical and 
philosophical force. Sense qualities, as we saw in the previous 


chapter, are something to be known, they are challenges to 
knowing, setting problems for investigation. Our scientific 
knowledge is something about them, resolving the problems 
they propose. Inquiry proceeds by reflection, by thinking; 
but not, most decidedly, by thinking as conceived in the old 
tradition, as something cooped up within "mind". For experi- 
mental inquiry or thinking signifies directed activity, doing 
something which varies the conditions under which objects 
are observed and directly had and by instituting new arrange- 
ments among them. Things perceived suggest to us (originally 
just evoke or stimulate) certain ways of responding to them, 
of treating them. These operations have been continuously 
refined and elaborated during the history of man on earth, 
although it is only during the last few centuries that the whole 
affair of controlled thinking and of its issue in genuine know- 
ledge has been seen to be bound up with their selection and 

The central question thus arises: What determines the 
selection of operations to be performed? There is but one 
answer: the nature of the problem to be dealt with an 
answer which links the phase of experiment now under dis- 
cussion with that considered in the last chapter. The first effect 
of experimental analysis is, as we saw, to reduce objects directly 
experienced to data. This resolution is required because the 
objects in their first mode of experience are perplexing, obscure, 
Fragmentary; in some way they fail to answer a need. Given 
data which locate the nature of the problem, there is evoked 
i thought of an operation which if put into execution may 
eventuate in a situation in which the trouble or doubt which 
evoked inquiry will be resolved. If one were to trace the history 
3f science far enough, one would reach a time in which the 
icts which dealt with a troublesome situation would be organic 
esponses of a structural type together with a few acquired 
labits. The most elaborate technique of present inquiry in the 
aboratory is an extension and refinement of these simple 


original operations. Its development has for the most part 
depended upon the utilization of physical instruments, which 
when inquiry was developed to a certain point were purposely 
invented. In principle, the history of the construction of 
suitable operations in the scientific field is not different from 
that of their evolution in industry. Something needed to be 
done to accomplish an end; various devices and methods of 
operation were tried. Experiences of success and failure 
gradually improved the means used. More economical and 
effective ways of acting were found that is, operations which 
gave the desired kind of result with greater ease, less irrelevancy 
and less ambiguity, greater security. Each forward step was 
attended with making better tools. Often the invention of a tool 
suggested operations not in mind when it was invented and thus 
carried the perfecting of operations still further. There is thus 
no a priori test or rule for the determination of the operations 
which define ideas. They are themselves experimentally devel- 
oped in the course of actual inquiries. They originated in what 
men naturally do and are tested and improved in the course 
of doing. 

This is as far as the answer to the query can be carried in a 
formal way. Consequences that successfully solve the problems 
set by the conditions which give rise to the need of action 
supply the basis by means of which acts, originally "naturally" 
performed, become the operations of the art of scientific 
experimentation. In content, a much more detailed answer can 
be given. For this answer, one would turn to the historical 
development of science, in which is recorded what kind of 
operations have definitely been found to effect the transforma- 
tion of the obscure and perplexing situations of experience into 
clear and resolved situations. To go into this matter would be 
to expound the character of the concepts actually employed in 
the best developed branches of reflection or inquiry. 

While such a discussion is apart from our purpose, there 
is one common character of all such scientific operations which 


it is necessary to note. They are such as disclose relationships. A 
simple case is the operation by which length is defined by one 
object placed end upon end upon another object so many times. 
This type of operation, repeated under conditions themselves 
defined by specified operations, not merely fixes the relation of 
two things to each other called their length, but defines a 
generalized concept of length. This conception in connection 
with other operations, such as those which define mass and 
time, become instruments by means of which a multitude of 
relations between bodies can be established. Thus the concep- 
tions which define units of measurement of space, time and 
motion become the intellectual instrumentalities by which all 
sorts of things with no qualitative similarity with one another 
can be compared and brought within the same system. To the 
original gross experience of things there is superadded another 
type of experience, the product of deliberate art, of which 
relations rather than qualities are the significant subject-matter. 
These connections are as much experienced as are the qualita- 
tively diverse and irreducible objects of original natural 

Qualities present themselves as just what they are, statically 
demarcated from one another. Moreover, they rarely change, 
when left to themselves, in such ways as to indicate the inter- 
actions or relations upon which their occurrence depends. No 
one ever observed the production of the thing having the 
properties of water, nor the mode of generation of a flash of 
lightning. In sensory perception the qualities are either too 
static or too abruptly discrete to manifest the specific connec- 
tions that are involved in their coming into existence. Inten- 
tional variation of conditions gives an idea of these connections. 
Through thought of them the things are understood or truly 
known. Only slowly, however, did there dawn the full import 
of the scientific method. For a long time the definitions were 
supposed to be made not in terms of relations but through 
certain properties of antecedent things. The space, time and 


motion of physics were treated as inherent properties of Being, 
instead of as abstracted relations. In fact, two phases of inquiry 
accompany each other and correspond to each other. In one 
of these phases, everything in qualitative objects except their 
happening is ignored, attention being paid to qualities only as 
signs of the nature of the particular happening in question : 
that is, objects are treated as events. In the other phase, the aim 
of inquiry is to correlate events with one another. Scientific 
conceptions of space, time and motion constitute the generalized 
system of these correlations of events. Thus they are doubly 
dependent upon operations of experimental art: upon those 
which treat qualitative objects as events, and upon those which 
connect events thus determined with one another. 

In these statements we have, however, anticipated the actual 
movement of scientific thought. This took a long time to arrive 
at recognition of its own import. Till our own day, scientific 
conceptions were interpreted in the light of the old belief that 
conceptions to be valid must correspond to antecedent intrinsic 
properties resident in objects dealt with. Certain properties 
regarded by Newton as inherent in substances and essential 
to them, in independence of connectivity, were indeed speedily 
seen to be relations. This conversion happened first as to 
hardness and impenetrability, which were seen to be reducible 
to mass. Vis inertiae was a measure of mass. By careful thinkers 
"force" was treated as a measure of acceleration and so a name 
for a relation, not as an inherent property of an isolated thing 
by virtue of which one thing could compel another to change. 
Nevertheless, until the promulgation of Einstein's restricted 
theory of relativity, mass, time and motion were regarded 
as intrinsic properties of ultimate fixed and independent 

We shall postpone till later consideration of the circum- 
stances attending the change. We are here concerned with the 
fact that when it took place it was, in spite of its upsetting 
effects upon the foundation of the Newtonian philosophy of 


science and of nature, from the logical point of view only a 
clear acknowledgment of what had all the time been the 
moving principle of the development of scientific method. To 
say this is not to disparage the scientific importance of the 
discovery that mass varies with velocity and of the result of 
the Michelson-Morley experiment on the velocity of light. 
Such discoveries were doubtless necessary in order to force 
recognition of the operational or relational character of scientific 
conceptions. And yet, logically, the way in which space, time 
and motion, with their various functions, appear in mathe- 
matical equations and are translated into equivalent formulations 
with respect to one another something which is impossible for 
qualities as such indicates that a relational treatment had 
always been involved. But the imagination of men had become 
used to ideas framed on the pattern of large masses and relatively 
slow velocities. It required observation of changes of high 
velocity, as of light over great distances, and of minute changes 
occurring at infinitesimal distances to emancipate imagination 
from its acquired habitudes. The discovery that mass varies 
with velocity did away with the possibility of continuing to 
suppose that mass is the defining characteristic of things in 
isolation from one another such isolation being the sole 
condition under which mass could be regarded as immutable 
or fixed. 

The difference made in the actual content of scientific 
theory is of course enormous. Yet it is not so great as the 
difference made in the logic of scientific knowledge, nor as in 
philosophy. With the surrender of unchangeable substances 
having properties fixed in isolation and unaffected by inter- 
actions, must go the notion that certainty is attained by attach- 
ment to fixed objects with fixed characters. For not only are 
no such objects found to exist, but the very nature of experi- 
mental method, namely, definition by operations that are 
interactions, implies that such things are not capable of being 
known. Henceforth the quest for certainty becomes the search 


for methods $f control; that is, regulation of conditions of 
change with respect to their consequences. 

Theoretical certitude is assimilated to practical certainty; 
to security, trustworthiness of instrumental operations. "Real" 
things may be as transitory as you please or as lasting in time 
as you please; these are specific differences like that between 
a flash of lightning and the history of a mountain range. In 
any case they are for knowledge "events'* not substances. What 
knowledge is interested in is the correlation among these 
changes or events which means in effect that the event called 
the mountain range must be placed within a system consisting 
of a vast multitude of included events. When these correlations 
are discovered, the possibility of control is in our hands. 
Scientific objects as statements of these inter-relations are 
instrumentalities of control. They are objects of the thought of 
reality, not disclosures of immanent properties of real sub- 
stances. They are in particular the thought of reality from a 
particular point of view : the most highly generalized view of 
nature as a system^of interconnected changes. 

Certain important conclusions follow. The test of the 
validity of ideas undergoes a radical transformation. In the 
Newtonian scheme, as in the classic tradition, this test resided 
in properties belonging to ultimate real objects in isolation 
from one another, and hence fixed or unchanging. According 
to experimental inquiry, the validity of the object of thought 
depends upon the consequences of the operations which define 
the object of thought. For example, colours are conceived in 
terms of certain numbers. The conceptions are valid in the 
degree in which, by means of these numbers, we can predict 
future events, and can regulate the interactions of coloured 
bodies as signs of changes that take place. The numbers are 
signs or clues of intensity and direction of changes going on. 
The only things relevant to the question of their validity is 
whether they are dependable signs. That heat is a mode of 
motion does not signify that heat and cold as qualitatively 


experienced are "unreal", but that the qualitative experience 
can be treated as an event measured in terms of units of velocity 
of movement, involving units of position and time, so that 
it can be connected with other events or changes similarly 
formulated. The test of the validity of any particular intellectual 
conception, measurement or enumeration is functional, its use 
in making possible the institution of interactions which yield 
results in control of actual experiences of observed objects. 

In contrast with this fact, in the Newtonian philosophy 
measurements are important because they were supposed to 
disclose just how much of a certain property belonged to some 
body as its own isolated and intrinsic property. Philosophically, 
the effect of this view was to reduce the "reality" of objects 
to just such mathematical and mechanical properties hence 
the philosophical "problem" of the relation of real physical 
objects to the objects of experience with their qualities and 
immediate values of enjoyment and use. Mr. Eddington has 
said that "the whole of our physical knowledge is based on 
measures", and that "whenever we state the properties of a 
body in terms of physical quantities, we are imparting the 
responses of various metrical indicators to its presence, and 
nothing more". 1 His graphic illustration of the physical formula- 
tion of what happens when an elephant slides downhill comes 
to mind. The mass of the elephant is the reading of a pointer 
on a weighing scale; the slope of the hill, the reading of a 
plumb-line against the divisions of a protractor; bulk, a series 
of readings on the scale of a pair of calipers ; colour, readings of 
a photometer for light; the duration of the slide, a series of 
readings on a watch-dial, etc. 

It seems almost too obvious for mention that a scientific 
object consisting of a set of measurements of relations between 
two qualitative objects, and itself accordingly non-qualitative, 
cannot possibly be taken, or even mis-taken, for a new kind 
of "real" object which is a rival to the "reality" of the ordinary 
1 The Nature of the Physical World, pp. 152 and 257. 


object. But so loth are we to surrender traditional conceptions 
and unwilling as philosophers to surrender as unreal problems 
which have long engaged attention, that even Mr. Eddington 
feels called upon to reclothe these scientific measured relations 
with qualities as something which "mind" mysteriously intro- 
duced! Prisoners in jails are often given numbers and are 
"known" by the numbers assigned. It has not yet occurred to 
anyone that these numbers are the real prisoners, and that 
there is always a duplicate real object ; one a number, and the 
other a flesh-and-blood person, and that these two editions of 
reality have to be reconciled. It is true that the numbers which 
constitute by means of measurements the object of scientific 
thought are not assigned so arbitrarily as those of prisoners, but 
there is no difference in philosophical principle. 

Incidentally, Mr. Eddington remarks in his discussion of 
the metric properties of the object of thought that a knowledge 
of all possible responses of a concrete thing as measured by 
suitable devices "would completely determine its relation to 
its environment". The relations a thing sustains are hardly a 
competitor to the thing itself. Put positively, the physical 
object, as scientifically defined, is not a duplicated real object, 
but is a statement, as numerically definite as is possible, of the 
relations between sets of changes the qualitative object sustains 
with changes in other things ideally of all things with which 
interaction might under any circumstances take place. 

Since these correlations are what physical inquiry does 
know, it is fair to conclude that they are what it intends or 
means to know: on analogy with the legal maxim that any 
reasonable person intends the reasonably probable consequences 
of what he does. We come back again to the frequently repeated 
statement that the problem which has given so much trouble to 
modern philosophy that of reconciling the reality of the 
physical object of science with the richly qualitative object of 
ordinary experience, is a factitious one. All that is required in 
order to apprehend that scientific knowledge as a mode of active 


operation is a potential ally of the modes of action which sustain 
values in existence, is to surrender the traditional notion that 
knowledge is possession of the inner nature of things and is the 
only way in which they may be experienced as they "really" are. 

Fof if one change is correlated definitely with others it can 
be employed as an indication of their occurrence. Seeing one 
thing happen we can promptly infer upon what it depends, 
and what needs to be reinforced or to be weakened if its presence 
is to be made more secure or is to be done away with. In itself, 
the object is just what it is experienced as being, hard, heavy, 
sweet, sonorous, agreeable or tedious and so on. But in being 
"there" these traits are effects, not causes. They cannot as such 
be used as means, and when they are set up as ends in view, 
we are at a loss how to secure them. For just as qualities there 
are no constant and definite relations which can be ascertained 
between them and other things. If we wish to regard them not 
as fixed properties but as things to be attained, we must be 
able to look upon them as dependent events. If we wish to be 
able to judge how they may be attained, we must connect them 
as changes with other changes more nearly in our power, until 
by means of a transitive series of connected changes we arrive 
at that which we can initiate by our own acts. If one with 
understanding of the whole situation were to set out to devise 
means of control of the experience of qualitative values, he 
would plot a course which would be identical with that followed 
by experimental science ; one in which the results of knowledge 
would bear the same relation to acts to be performed as do 
those of actual physical knowledge. 

Ability, through a definite or measured correlation of 
changes, to connect one with another as sign or evidence is 
the precondition of control. It does not of itself provide direct 
control; reading the index hand of a barometer as a sign of 
probable rain does not enable us to stop the coming of the 
rain. But it does enable us to change our relations to it: to 
plant a garden, to carry an umbrella on going out, to direct 


the course of a vessel at sea, etc. It enables preparatory acts 
to be undertaken which make values less insecure. If it does 
not enable us to regulate just what is to take place, it enables 
us to direct some phase of it in a way which influences the 
stability of purposes and results. In other cases, as in the arts 
proper, we can not only modify our own attitude so as to effect 
useful preparation for what is to happen, but we can modify 
the happening itself. This use of one change or perceptible 
occurrence as a sign of others and as a means of preparing 
ourselves, did not wait for the development of modern science. 
It is as old as man himself, being the heart of all intelligence. 
But accuracy and scope of such judgments, which are the only 
means with power to direct the course of events and to effect 
the security of values, depends upon the use of methods such 
as modern physics has made available. 

Extent of control is dependent, as was suggested a moment 
ago, upon capacity to find a connected series of correlated 
change, such that each linked pair leads on to another in the 
direction of a terminal one which can be brought about by our 
own action. It is this latter condition which is especially fulfilled 
by the objects of scientific thought. Physical science disregards 
the qualitative heterogeneity of experienced objects so as to 
make them all members in one comprehensive homogeneous 
scheme, and hence capable of translation or conversion one 
into another. This homogeneity of subject-matter over a broad 
range of things which are as disparate from each other in direct 
experience as sound and colour, heat and light, friction and 
electricity, is the source of the wide and free control of events 
found in modern technology. Common-sense knowledge can 
connect things as sign and thing indicated here and there by 
isolated couples. But it cannot possibly join them all up together 
so that we can pass from any one to any other. The homogeneity 
of scientific objects, through formulation in terms of relations 
of space, time and motion, is precisely the device which makes 
this indefinitely broad and flexible scheme of transitions 


possible. The meaning which one event has is translatable 
into the meanings which others possess. Ideas of objects, 
formulated in terms of the relations which changes bear to 
one another, having common measures, institute broad, smooth 
highways by means of which we can travel from the thought of 
one part of nature to that of any other. In ideal at least, we can 
travel from any meaning or relation found anywhere in 
nature to the meaning to be expected anywhere else. 

We have only to compare thinking and judging objects in 
terms of these measured interactions with the classic scheme 
of a hierarchy of species and genera to see the great gain that 
has been effected. It is the very nature of fixed kinds to be as 
exclusive with respect to those of a different order as it is to be 
inclusive with respect to those which fall within the class. 
Instead of a thoroughfare from one order to another, there 
was a sign : No passage. The work of emancipation which was 
initiated by experimentation, setting objects free from limita- 
tion by old habits and customs, reducing them to a collection 
of data forming a problem for inquiry, is perfected by the 
method of conceiving and defining objects through opera- 
tions which have as their consequence accurate metric 
statements of changes correlated with changes going on else- 

The resolution of objects and nature as a whole into facts 
stated exclusively in terms of quantities which may be handled 
in calculation, such as saying that red is such a number of 
changes while green is another, seems strange and puzzling 
only when we fail to appreciate what it signifies. In reality, it 
is a declaration that this is the effective way to think things; 
the effective mode in which to frame ideas of them, to formulate 
their meanings. The procedure does not vary in principle from 
that by which it is stated that an article is worth so many dollars 
and cents. The latter statement does not say that the article is 
literally or in its ultimate "reality" so many dollars and cents; 
it says that for purpose of exchange that is the way to think of 


it, to judge it. It has many other meanings and these others are 
usually more important inherently. But with respect to trade, it 
is what it is worth, what it will sell for, and the price value put 
upon it expresses the relation it bears to other things in 
exchange. The advantage in stating its worth in terms of an 
abstract measure of exchange such as money, instead of in 
terms of the amount of corn, potatoes or some other special 
thing it will exchange for, is that the latter method is restricted 
and the former generalized. Development of the systems of 
units by which to measure sensible objects (or form ideas of 
them) has come along with discovery of the ways in which the 
greatest amount of free movement from one conception to 
another is possible. 

The formulation of ideas of experienced objects in terms of 
measured quantities, as these are established by an intentional 
art or technique, does not say that this is the way they must 
be thought, the only valid way of thinking them. It states that 
for the purpose of generalized, indefinitely extensive translation 
from one idea to another, this is the way to think them. The 
statement is like any other statement about instruments, such 
as that so-and-so is the best way of sending a number of 
telegraphic dispatches simultaneously. As far as it is actually 
the best instrumentality, the statement is correct. It has to be 
proved by working better than any other agency; it is in process 
of continuous revision and improvement. For purposes except 
that of general and extensive translation of one conception into 
another, it does not follow that the "scientific" way is the best 
way of thinking an affair. The nearer we come to an action that 
is to have an individualized unique object of experience for its 
conclusion, the less do we think the things in question in these 
exclusively metric terms. The physician in practice will not think 
in terms as general and abstract as those of the physiologist in 
the laboratory, nor the engineer in the field in those as free from 
special application as will the physicist in his workshop. There 
are many ways of thinking things in relation to one another; 


they are, as conceptions, instruments. The value of an instru- 
ment depends upon what is to be done with it. The fine-scale 
micrometer which is indispensable in the successful perform- 
ance of one operation would be a hindrance in some other 
needed act; and a watch-spring is useless to give elasticity to 
a mattress. 

There is something both ridiculous and disconcerting in the 
way in which men have let themselves be imposed upon, so 
as to infer that scientific ways of thinking of objects give the 
inner reality of things, and that they put a mark of spuriousness 
upon all other ways of thinking of them, and of perceiving and 
enjoying them. It is ludicrous because these scientific concep- 
tions, like other instruments, are hand-made by man in pursuit 
of realization of a certain interest that of the maximum 
convertibility of every object of thought into any and every 
other. It is a wonderful ideal; the ingenuity which man has 
shown in devising means of realizing the interest is even more 
marvellous. But these ways of thinking are no more rivals of 
or substitutes for objects as directly perceived and enjoyed 
than the power-loom, which is a more effective instrument for 
weaving cloth than was the old hand-loom, is a substitute and 
rival for cloth. The man who is disappointed and tragic because 
he cannot wear a loom is in reality no more ridiculous than are 
the persons who feel troubled because the objects of scientific 
conception of natural things have not the same uses and values 
as the things of direct experience. 

The disconcerting aspect of the situation resides in the 
difficulty with which mankind throws off beliefs that have 
become habitual. The test of ideas, of thinking generally, is 
found in the consequences of the acts to which the ideas lead, 
that is, in the new arrangements of things which are brought 
into existence. Such is the unequivocal evidence as to the worth 
of ideas which is derived from observing their position and 
r61e in experimental knowing. But tradition makes the tests 
of ideas to be their agreement with some antecedent state oi 


things. This change of outlook and standard from what precedes 
to what comes after, from the retrospective to the prospective, 
from antecedents to consequences, is extremely hard to accom- 
plish. Hence when the physical sciences describe objects and 
the world as being such and such, it is thought that the descrip- 
tion is of reality as it exists in itself. Since all value-traits are 
lacking in objects as science presents them to us, it is assumed 
that Reality has not such characteristics. 

In the previous chapter, we saw that experimental method, 
in reducing objects to data, divests experienced things of their 
qualities, but that this removal, judged from the standpoint of 
the whole operation of which it is one part, is a condition of 
the control which enables us to endow the objects of experience 
with other qualities which we want them to have. In like 
fashion, thought, our conceptions and ideas, are designations 
of operations to be performed or already performed. Conse- 
quently their value is determined by the outcome of these 
operations. They are sound if the operations they direct give 
us the results which are required. The authority of thought 
depends upon what it leads us to through directing the perform- 
ance of operations. The business of thought is not to conform 
to or reproduce the characters already possessed by objects 
but to judge them as potentialities of what they become through 
an indicated operation. This principle holds from the simplest 
case to the most elaborate. To judge that this object is sweet, 
that is, to refer the idea or meaning "sweet" to it without 
actually experiencing sweetness, is to predict that when it is 
tasted that is, subjected to a specified operation a certain 
consequence will ensue. Similarly, to think of the world in 
terms of mathematical formulae of space, time and motion is 
not to have a picture of the independent and fixed essence of 
the universe. It is to describe experienceable objects as material 
upon which certain operations are performed. 

The bearing of this conclusion upon the relation of knowledge 
and action speaks for itself. Knowledge which is merely a 


reduplication in ideas of what exists already in the world may 
afford us the satisfaction of a photograph, but that is all. To 
form ideas whose worth is to be judged by what exists inde- 
pendently of them is not a function that (even if the test could 
be applied, which seems impossible) goes on within nature or 
makes any difference there. Ideas that are plans of operations to 
be performed are integral factors in actions which change the 
face of the world. Idealistic philosophies have not been wrong 
in attaching vast importance and power to ideas. But in isolating 
their function and their test from action, they failed to grasp 
the point and place where ideas have a constructive office. A 
genuine idealism and one compatible with science will emerge 
as soon as philosophy accepts the teaching of science that ideas 
are statements not of what is or has been but of acts to be 
performed. For then mankind will learn that, intellectually 
(that is, save for the aesthetic enjoyment they afford, which is 
of course a true value), ideas are worthless except as they pass 
into actions which rearrange and reconstruct in some way, be 
it little or large, the world in which we live. To magnify thought 
and ideas for their own sake apart from what they do (except, 
once more, aesthetically) is to refuse to learn the lesson of the 
most authentic kind of knowledge the experimental and it 
is to reject the idealism which involves responsibility. To praise 
thinking above action because there is so much ill-considered 
action in the world is to help maintain the kind of a world in 
which action occurs for narrow and transient purposes. To seek 
after ideas and to cling to them as means of conducting opera- 
tions, as factors in practical arts, is to participate in creating a 
world in which the springs of thinking will be clear and ever- 
flowing. We recur to our general issue. When we take the 
instance of scientific experience in its own field, we find that 
experience when it is experimental does not signify the absence 
of large and far-reaching ideas and purposes. It is dependent 
upon them at every point. But it generates them within its own 
procedures and tests them by its own operations. In so far, we 


have the earnest of a possibility of human experience, in all its 
phases, in which ideas and meanings will be prized and will 
be continuously generated and used. But they will be integral 
with the course of experience itself, not imported from the 
external source of a reality beyond. 


THE PROBLEM OF THE nature, office and test of ideas is not 
exhausted in the matter of physical conceptions we have 
discussed in the preceding chapter. Mathematical ideas are 
indispensable instruments of physical research, and no account 
of the method of the latter is complete that does not take 
into account the applicability of mathematical conceptions to 
natural existence. Such ideas have always seemed to be the 
very type of pure conceptions, of thought in its own nature 
unadulterated with material derived from experience. To a 
constant succession of philosophers, the role of mathematics 
in physical analysis and formulation has seemed to be a proof 
of the presence of an invariant rational element within physical 
existence, which is on that account something more than 
physical; this role of conceptions has been the stumbling- 
block of empiricists in trying to account for science on an 
empirical basis. 

The significance of mathematics for philosophy is not con- 
fined to this seemingly superphysical phase of the physical 
world, and a superempirical factor in knowledge of it. 
Mathematical conceptions as expressions of pure thought 
have also seemed to provide the open gateway to a realm of 
essence that is independent of existence, physical or mental 
a self-subsisting realm of ideal and eternal objects which 
are the objects of the highest that is, the most assured 
knowledge. As was earlier noted, the Euclidean geometry was 
undoubtedly the pattern for the development of a formally 
rational logic; it was also a marked factor in leading Plato to 
his doctrine of a world of supersensible and superphysical 
ideal objects. The procedure of mathematics has, moreover, 
always been the chief reliance of those who have asserted that 
the demonstrated validity of all reflective thinking depends 


upon rational truths immediately known without any element 
of inference entering in. For mathematics was supposed to 
rest upon a basis of first truths or axioms, self-evident in 
nature, and needing only that the eye of reason should fall 
upon them to be recognized for what they are. The function 
of indemonstrables, of axioms and definitions, in mathematical 
deduction has been the ground for the distinct : on between 
intuitive and discursive reason, just as deductions have been 
taken to be the convincing proof that there is a realm of pure 
essences logically connected with one another: universals 
having internal bonds with one another. 

The theory that conceptions are definitions of consequences 
of operations needs therefore to be developed with reference 
to mathematical ideas both for its own sake and for its bearing 
upon the philosophic issues which are basic to the logic of 
rationalism and to the metaphysics of essences and universals 
or invariants. We shall begin with mathematical concepts 
in their physical sense, and then consider them as they 
are developed apart from existential application. Although 
Descartes defined natural existence as extension, the classic 
tradition that only sense and imagination, among the organs 
of mind, refer to physical existence caused him to feel bound 
to offer justification for the doctrine that natural phenomena 
can be scientifically stated by purely mathematical reasoning 
without need of recourse to experimentation. His proof of 
the existence of God served the purpose of justifying this 
application of mathematical conceptions in physics. With 
Spinoza, the correspondence between physical existence and 
ideas did not need to be substantiated by God because it was 
God. This correspondence when modified to give thought 
such a priority as to include existence within itself became 
the animating motif of Post-Kantian idealistic systems. 

Newton, being a man of science rather than a professed 
philosopher, made such assumptions as he thought scientific 
procedure demanded and its conclusions warranted. The 


scepticism of Hume (anticipated, however, by Berkeley as 
far as the Newtonian metaphysics of mathematical space and 
time were concerned) was, as is notorious, the chief factor in 
leading Kant to regard space and time as a priori forms of 
all perceptual experience. One of the grounds for Kant's 
conviction that his doctrine was incon trovertible was because 
he thought it had the support of Newtonian physics and was 
necessary to give that physics a firm foundation. 

The consideration important for our special purpose is, 
however, the fact that Newton with respect to the doctrine of 
space, time and motion (involved in all conception of things 
dealt with in the universal physics of nature) frankly deserted 
the empirical method he professed to use in respect to the 
properties of the ultimate fixed substances. At the same time, 
he regarded the physical and the mathematical as comple- 
mentary conceptions of two sets of properties of fixed forms of 
immutable Being. He assumed, in addition to atoms having 
mass, inertia and extension, the existence of empty immaterial 
space and time in which these substances lived, moved and 
had their being. The combination of the properties of these two 
kinds of Being provided the union of the empirically observed 
properties of phenomena with those that were rational and 
mathematical: a union so complete and so intimate that it 
conferred upon the Newtonian system that massive solidity 
and comprehensiveness which seemed to render his system 
in its essential framework the last word possible of the science 
of nature. 

Definition of space, time and motion from "the relation 
they bear to sense" is according to him "a vulgar prejudice". 
As well as any contemporary physicist, he knew that pheno- 
mena of space, time and motion in their perceived forms are 
found in a frame of reference which is relative to an observer. 
In escape from the relativity of observable traits of the spatial 
and temporal motions of bodies, he assumed the existence of 
a fixed container of empty space in which bodies are located and 


an equably flowing time, empty in itself, in which changes 
take place. From this assumption, it followed that atoms have 
an intrinsically measurable motion of their own, independent 
of any connection with an observer. Absolute space, time and 
motion were thus the immutable frame within which all 
particular phenomena take place. 

The assumption of these rational absolutes was also required 
by his basic metaphysics of fixed substances having their own 
inherent and unchangeable (or essential) properties of mass, 
extension and inertia. The sole ground of assurance that 
ultimate hard and massy particles persist without internal 
change, that all changes are merely matters of their external 
"separations and associations", was the existence of something 
empty and fixed within which the latter occur. Without such 
an intervening medium, interaction with one another would 
be equivalent to internal changes in atoms. Space provided 
the condition under which changes would be external and 
indifferent to ultimate physical substances. Since, then, changes 
have nothing to do directly with the relations of atoms to one 
another, the temporal order of changes cannot be connected 
with the atoms themselves. There must be some evenly flowing 
external change in reality no change at all in reference to 
which they have fixed positions of before and after and of 
simultaneity. Since velocity and acceleration of observed 
motions would be disjoined from absolute position and date 
if they were relative to an observer to the disruption of the 
whole physical scheme motion must also be absolute. 

While professing empiricism, Newton thus got the benefit 
of the rationalistic system of strict deductive necessity. 
Invariant time, space and motion furnished phenomena those 
properties to which mathematical reasoning could be attached 
as a disclosure of inherent properties. The positions of bodies 
could be treated as an assemblage of geometrical points and 
the temporal properties of their motions be considered as if 
they were mere instants. Everything observed had, in its 


scientific treatment, to conform mathematically to specifications 
laid down by the mathematics of space and time. Until our own 
day, until the conception of the determination of simultaneity 
of occurrence was challenged by Einstein, the system continued 
to receive at least Pickwickian assent from scientists. 

There is no trouble of course about the determination of 
simultaneity when two events occur within one and the same 
region of observation. Newton, because of his assumption of 
absolute time, assumed that the measurement of simultaneity 
had precise meaning for events not occurring within the same 
observed field. Einstein saw that this assumption was the 
Achilles heel of the entire scheme. He demanded an 
experimental method of determining simultaneity without 
which events cannot be dated with respect to one another. 
He made the demand not on purely general principles, but 
because of a definite problem with relation to the velocity of 
light. For the existing state of the doctrine of light presented 
a discrepancy not to be resolved on the basis of the received 
scheme. The observed constancy of light with reference to the 
place from which its direction was observed and its velocity 
measured, did not agree with a fundamental principle of 
dynamics; with its postulate concerning frames of reference 
for co-ordinate systems having uniform movements of trans- 
lation. Instead of maintaining the old theory and denying 
the validity of the observed result of the Michelson-Morley 
experiment, Einstein asked what change in conceptions was 
demanded by the experimental result. He saw that the 
measurement of time relations, centring in the concept of 
simultaneity, was the crucial point. 

So he said, "We require a definition of simultaneity such 
that this definition supplies us with a method by which in 
particular cases the physicist can decide by experiment whether 
or not two events occurred simultaneously". 1 He suggested an 
arrangement by which two flashes of light, not in themselves 
1 Einstein, Relativity, New York, 1926, p. 26. Italics not in original. 


capable of inclusion in one region of observation, be reflected 
to a mirror placed midway between the origin of the two 
flashes. They are simultaneous if they are then included 
within one and the same act of observation. To a layman, 
the suggestion might seem innocuous. But taken in its context, 
it signified that the temporal relation of events was to be 
measured by means of the consequences of an operation 
which constitutes as its outcome a single field of observed 
phenomena. It signified, in connection with the fact regarding 
the constancy of velocity of light, that events occurring at 
different times according to two watches keeping exactly the 
same time, placed at the points of the origin of the flashes, 
may be simultaneous. In scientific content, this was equivalent 
to doing away with Newton's absolutes; it was the source of 
the doctrine of restricted relativity. It signified that local or 
individualized times are not the same as a generic common 
time of physics: in short, it signified that physical time 
designates a relation of events, not the inherent property of 

What is significant for our purpose is that it marked the 
end, as far as natural science is concerned, of the attempt to 
frame scientific conceptions of objects in terms of properties 
assigned to those objects independently of the observed con- 
sequences of an experimental operation. Since the former 
doctrine about the proper way to form conceptions, to the 
effect that agreement with antecedent properties determines 
the value or validity of ideas, was the doctrine common to 
all philosophic schools except the pragmatic one of Peirce 
the logical and philosophical transformation thus effected may 
be said to be more far-reaching than even the extraordinary 
development in the content of natural science which resulted. 
It is not too much to say that whatever should be future 
developments in discoveries about light, or that even if the 
details of the Einstein theory of relativity should be some 
time discredited, a genuine revolution, and one which will 


not go backward, has been effected in the theory of the origin, 
nature and test of scientific ideas. 

In respect to the special theme of the nature of mathematico- 
physical conceptions, the pertinent conclusion is evident. For 
the conclusion of Einstein, in eliminating absolute space, 
time and motion as physical existences, does away with the 
doctrine that statements of space, time and motion as they 
appear in physics concern inherent properties. For that notion, 
it compels the substitution of the notion that they designate 
relations of events. As such relations, they secure, in their 
generality, the possibility of linking together objects viewed 
as events in a general system of linkage and translation. They 
are the means of correlating observations made at different 
times and places, whether by one observer or by many, so 
that translations may be effected from one to another. In 
short, they do the business that all thinking and objects 
of thought have to effect: they connect, through relevant 
operations, the discontinuities of individualized observations 
and experiences into continuity with one another. Their validity 
is a matter of their efficacy in performance of this function; 
it is tested by results and not by correspondence with antecedent 
properties of existence. 

It is possible to extend this conclusion to logical forms in 
general. The fact that there are certain formal conditions 
of the validity of inference has been used as the ultimate 
warrant of a realm of invariant Being. But in analogy with 
the conclusion regarding mathematical conceptions, logical 
forms are statements of the means by which it is discovered 
that various inferences may be translated into one another, 
or made available with respect to one another, in the widest 
and most secure way. Fundamentally, the needs satisfied by 
inference are not fully met as long as special instances are 
isolated from one another. 

The difference between the operational conception of con- 
ceptions and the traditional orthodox one may be indicated by 


an illustrative analogy. 1 A visitor to a country finds certain 
articles used for various purposes, rugs, baskets, spears, etc. 
He may be struck by the beauty, elegance and order of their 
designs, and, assuming a purely aesthetic attitude toward them, 
conclude that they are put to use only incidentally. He may 
even suppose that their instrumental use marks a degradation 
of their inherent nature, a concession to utilitarian needs and 
conveniences. A "tough-minded" observer may be convinced 
that they were intended to be put to use, and had been con- 
structed for that purpose. He would, indeed, recognize that 
there must have been raw materials which were inherently 
adapted for conversion to such appliances. But he would not 
on that account believe the things to be original instead of 
being made articles; still less would he conceive them to be 
the original "realities'* of which crude or raw material were 
imitations or inadequate phenomenal exemplifications. As he 
traced the history of these instrumentalities and found them 
beginning in forms which were nearer to raw materials, 
gradually being perfected in economy and efficiency, he would 
conclude that the perfecting had been an accompaniment of 
use for ends, changes being introduced to remedy deficiencies 
in prior operations and results. His tender-minded companion 
might, on the other hand, infer that the progressive develop- 
ment showed that there was some original and transcendental 
pattern which had been gradually approximated empirically, 
an archetype laid up in the heavens. 

One person might argue that, while the development of 
designs had been a temporal process, it had been wholly 
determined by patterns of order, harmony and symmetry 
that have an independent subsistence, and that the historic 

1 The phrase "conception of conceptions" is used to suggest that the 
interpretation is self-applying: that is, the conception advanced is 
also a designation of a method to be pursued. One may lead a horse to 
water but cannot compel him to drink. If one is unable to perform an 
indicated operation or declines to do so, he will not of course get its 


movement was simply a piecemeal approximation to eternal 
patterns. He might elaborate a theory of formal coherence of 
relations having nothing to do with particular objects except 
that of being exemplified in them. His tough-minded companion 
might retort that any object made to serve a purpose must 
have a definite structure of its own which demands an internal 
consistency of parts in connection with one another, and that 
man-made machines are typical examples; that while these 
cannot be made except by taking advantage of conditions and 
relations previously existing, machines and tools are adequate 
to their function in the degree in which they produce rearrange- 
ment of antecedent things so that they may work better for the 
need in question. If speculatively inclined, he might wonder 
whether our very ideals of internal order and harmony had 
not themselves been formed under the pressure of constant 
need of redisposing of things so that they would serve as 
means for consequences. If not too tough-minded, he would 
be willing to admit that after a certain amount of internal 
rearrangement and organization had been effected under the 
more direct pressure of demand for effective instrumentalities, 
an enjoyed perception of internal harmony on its own account 
would result, and that study of formal relations might well 
give a clue to methods which would result in improvement of 
internal design for its own sake with no reference whatever 
to special further use. 

Apart from metaphor, the existence of works of fine art, 
of interest in making them and of enjoyment of them, affords 
sufficient evidence that objects exist which are wholly "real" 
and yet are man-made; that making them must observe 
or pay heed to antecedent conditions, and yet the objects 
intrinsically be redispositions of prior existence; that things 
as they casually offer themselves suggest ends and enjoyments 
they do not adequately realize ; that these suggestions become 
definite in the degree they take the form of ideas, of indications 
of operations to be performed in order to effect a desired 


eventual rearrangement. These objects, when once in existence, 
have their own characters and relations, and as such suggest 
standards and ends for further production of works of art, 
with less need for recourse to original "natural" objects; 
they become as it were a "realm" having its own purposes 
and regulative principles. At the same time, the objects of 
this "realm" tend to become over-formal, stereotyped and 
"academic" if the internal development of an art is too much 
isolated, so that there is recurrent need for attention to original 
"natural" objects in order to initiate new significant move- 

The notion that there are no alternatives with respect to 
mathematical objects save that they form an independent 
realm of essences ; or are relations inherent in some antecedent 
physical structure denominated space and time; or else are 
mere psychological, "mental" things, has no support in fact. 
The supposition that these alternatives are exhaustive is a 
survival of the traditional notion that identifies thought and 
ideas with merely mental acts that is, those inside mind. 
Products of intentional operations are objectively real and are 
valid if they meet the conditions involved in the intent for 
the sake of which they are constructed. But human interaction 
is a contributing factor in their production, and they have 
worth in the human use made of them. 

The discussion so far does not, however, directly touch the 
question of "pure" mathematics, mathematical ideas in them- 
selves. Newton's mathematics was professedly a mathematics 
of physical although non-material existence: of existential 
absolute space, time and motion. Mathematicians, however, 
often regard their distinctive conceptions as non-existential in 
any sense. The whole tendency of later developments, which 
it is unnecessary for our purposes to specify (but of which the 
doctrine of w-dimensional "spaces" is typical), is to identify 
pure mathematics with pure logic. Some philosophers employ 
therefore the entities of pure mathematics so as to rehabilitate 


the Platonic notion of a realm of essence wholly independent 
of all existence whatever. 

Does the doctrine of the operational and experimentally 
empirical nature of conceptions break down when applied to 
"pure" mathematical objects? The key to the answer is to be 
found in a distinction between operations overtly performed 
(or imagined to be performed) and operations symbolically 
executed. When we act overtly, consequences ensue; if we do 
not like them, they are nevertheless there in existence. We 
are entangled in the outcome of what we do ; we have to stand 
its consequences. We shall put a question that is so elementary 
that it may seem silly. How can we have an end in view 
without having an end, an existential result, in fact? With 
the answer to this question is bound up the whole problem 
of intentional regulation of what occurs. For unless we can 
have ends-in-view without experiencing them in concrete fact 
no regulation of action is possible. The question might be put 
thus : How can we act without acting, without doing something ? 

If, by a contradiction in terms, it had been possible for 
men to think of this question before they had found how to 
answer it, it would have been given up as insoluble. How can 
man make an anticipatory projection of the outcome of an 
activity in such a way as to direct the performance of an act 
which shall secure or avert that outcome? The solution must 
have been hit upon accidentally as a by-product, and then 
employed intentionally. It is natural to suppose that it came 
as a product of social life by way of communication; say, 
of cries that having once directed activities usefully without 
intent were afterwards used expressly for that purpose. But 
whatever the origin, a solution was found when symbols came 
into existence. By means of symbols, whether gestures, words 
or more elaborate constructions, we act without acting. That 
is, we perform experiments by means of symbols which have 
results which are themselves only symbolized, and which do 
not therefore commit us to actual or existential consequences. 



If a man starts a fire or insults a rival, effects follow; the die 
is cast. But if he rehearses the act in symbols in privacy, he 
can anticipate and appreciate its result. Then he can act or not 
act overtly on the basis of what is anticipated and is not there 
in fact. The invention or discovery of symbols is doubtless by 
far the single greatest event in the history of man. Without 
them, no intellectual advance is possible; with them, there is 
no limit set to intellectual development except inherent stupidity. 
For long ages, symbols were doubtless used to regulate 
activity only ad hoc\ they were employed incidentally and 
for some fairly immediate end. Moreover, the symbols used 
at first were not examined nor settled upon with respect to 
the office they performed. They were picked up in a casual 
manner from what was conveniently at hand. They carried 
all sorts of irrelevant associations that hampered their efficacy 
in their own special work. They were neither whittled down 
to accomplish a single function nor were they of a character 
to direct acts to meet a variety of situations: they were 
neither definite nor comprehensive. Definition and generalization 
are incompetent without invention of proper symbols. The 
loose and restricted character of popular thinking has its origin 
in these facts; its progress is encumbered by the vague and 
vacillating nature of ordinary words. Thus the second great 
step forward was made when special symbols were devised 
that were emancipated from the load of irrelevancy carried 
by words developed for social rather than for intellectual 
purposes, their meaning being helped out by their immediate 
local context. This liberation from accidental accretions 
changed clumsy and ambiguous instruments of thought into 
sharp and precise tools. Even more important was the fact 
that instead of being adapted to local and directly present 
situations, they were framed in detachment from direct overt 
use and with respect to one another. One has only to look 
at mathematical symbols to note that the operations they 
designate are others of the same kind as themselves, that is, 


symbolic not actual. The invention of technical symbols 
marked the possibility of an advance of thinking from the 
commor-sense level to the scientific. 

The formation of geometry by the Greeks is probably 
that which historically best illustrates the transition. Before 
this episode, counting and measuring had been employed for 
"practical" ends, that is, for uses directly involved in nearby 
situations. They were restricted to particular purposes. Yet 
having been invented and having found expression in definite 
symbols, they formed, as far as they went, a subject-matter 
capable of independent examination. New operations could be 
performed upon them. They could, and in no disrespectful 
sense, be played with; they could be treated from the stand- 
point of a fine art rather than from that of an immediately 
useful economic craft. The Greeks with their dominant aesthetic 
interest were the ones who took this step. Of the creation by 
the Greeks of geometry it has been said that it was stimulated 
"by the art of designing, guided by an aesthetic application 
of symmetrical figures. The study of such figures, and the 
experimental construction of tile figures, decorative borders, 
conventional sculptures, mouldings and the like had made the 
early Greeks acquainted not only with a great variety of 
regular geometrical forms, but with techniques by which they 
could be constructed, compounded and divided exactly, in 
various ways. Unlike their predecessors, the Greeks made 
an intellectual diversion of all they undertook." Having dis- 
covered by trial and error a large number of interrelated 
properties of figures, they proceeded to correlate these with 
one another and with new ones. They effected this work "in 
ways which gradually eliminated from their thought about 
them all guesswork, all accidental experiences such as errors 
of actual drawing and measurement, and all ideas except those 
which were absolutely essential. Their science thus became a 
science of ideas exclusively. " x 
1 Barry, The Scientific Habit of Thought, New York, 1927, pp. 212-213. 


The importance of the intellectual transition from concrete 
to abstract is generally recognized. But it is often miscon- 
ceived. It is not infrequently regarded as if it signified simply 
the selection by discriminative attention of some one quality 
or relation from a total object already sensibly present or 
present in memory. In fact, it marks a change in dimensions. 
Things are concrete to us in the degree in which they are 
either means directly used or are ends directly appropriated 
and enjoyed. Mathematical ideas were "concrete" when they 
were employed exclusively for building bins for grain or 
measuring land, selling goods, or aiding a pilot in guiding 
his ship. They became abstract when they were freed from 
connection with any particular existential application and use. 
This happened when operations made possible by symbols 
were performed exclusively with reference to facilitating and 
directing other operations also symbolic in nature. It is one 
kind of thing, a concrete one, to measure the area of a triangle 
so as to measure a piece of land, and another kind an abstract 
one to measure it simply as a means of measuring other areas 
symbolically designated. The latter type of operation makes 
possible a system of conceptions related together as conceptions ; 
it thus prepares the way for formal logic. 

Abstraction from use in special and direct situations was 
coincident with the formation of a science of ideas, of meanings, 
whose relations to one another rather than to things was the 
goal of thought. It is a process, however, which is subject to 
interpretation by a fallacy. Independence from any specified 
application is readily taken to be equivalent to independence 
from application as such; it is as if specialists, engaged in 
perfecting tools and having no concern with their use and 
so interested in the operation of perfecting that they carry 
results beyond any existing possibilities of use, were to argue 
that therefore they are dealing with an independent realm 
having no connection with tools or utilities. This fallacy is 
especially easy to fall into on the part of intellectual specialists. 


It played its part in the generation of a priori rationalism. 
It is the origin of that idolatrous attitude toward universals 
so often recurring in the history of thought. Those who handle 
ideas through symbols as if they were things for ideas are 
objects of thought and trace their mutual relations in all 
kinds of intricate and unexpected relationships, are ready 
victims to thinking of these objects as if they had no sort of 
reference to things, to existence. 

In fact, the distinction is one between operations to be actually 
performed and possible operations as such, as merely possible. 
Shift of reflection to development of possible operations in 
their logical relations to one another opens up opportunities 
for operations that would never be directly suggested. But its 
origin and eventual meaning lie in acts that deal with concrete 
situations. As to origin in overt operations there can be no 
doubt. Operations of keeping tally and scoring are found in 
both work and games. No complex development of the latter 
is possible without such acts and their appropriate symbols. 
These acts are the originals of number and of all develop- 
ments of number. There are many arts in which the operations 
of enumeration characteristic of keeping tally are explicitly 
used for measuring. Carpentry and masonry for example cannot 
go far without some device, however rude, for estimating size 
and bulk. If we generalize what happens in such instances, 
we see that the indispensable need is that of adjusting things 
as means, as resources, to other things as ends. 

The origin of counting and measuring is in economy and 
efficiency of such adjustments. Their results are expressed by 
physical means, at first notches, scratches, tying knots; later 
by figures and diagrams. It is easy to find at least three types 
of situations in which this adjustment of means to ends is 
a practical necessity. There is the case of allotment or dis- 
tribution of materials; of accumulation of stores against 
anticipated days of need; of exchange of things in which 
there is a surplus for things in which there is a deficit. The 


fundamental mathematical conceptions of equivalence, serial 
order, sum and unitary parts, of correspondence and sub- 
stitution, are all implicit in the operations that deal with such 
situations, although they become explicit and generalized only 
when operations are conducted symbolically in reference to 
one another. 

The failure of empiricism to account for mathematical ideas 
is due to its failure to connect them with acts performed. In 
accord with its sensationalistic character, traditional empiricism 
sought their origin in sensory impressions, or at most in sup- 
posed abstraction from properties antecedently characterizing 
physical things. Experimental empiricism has none of the 
difficulties of Hume and Mill in explaining the origin of 
mathematical truths. It recognizes that experience, the actual 
experience of men, is one of doing acts, performing operations, 
cutting, marking off, dividing up, extending, piecing together, 
joining, assembling and mixing, hoarding and dealing out; in 
general, selecting and adjusting things as means for reaching 
consequences. Only the peculiar hypnotic effect exercised by 
exclusive preoccupation with knowledge could have led thinkers 
to identify experience with reception of sensations, when 
five minutes' observation of a child would have disclosed that 
sensations count only as stimuli and registers of motor activity 
expended in doing things. 

All that was required for the development of mathematics 
as a science and for the growth of a logic of ideas, that is, 
of implications of operations with respect one to another, 
was that some men should appear upon the scene who were 
interested in the operations on their own account, as operations, 
and not as means to specified particular uses. When symbols 
were devised for operations cut off from concrete application, 
as happened under the influence of the aesthetic interest of 
the Greeks, the rest followed naturally. Physical means, the 
straightedge, the compass and the marker remained, and so 
did physical diagrams. But the latter were only "figures", 


images in the Platonic sense. Intellectual force was carried by 
the operations they symbolized, ruler and compass were only 
means for linking up with one another a series of operations 
represented by symbols. Diagrams, etc., were particular and 
variable, but the operations were uniform and general in 
their intellectual force: that is, in their relation to other 

When once the way was opened to thinking in terms of 
possible operations irrespective of actual performance, there 
was no limit to development save human ingenuity. In general, 
it proceeded along two lines. On the one hand, for the execution 
of tasks of physical inquiry, special intellectual instrumen- 
talities were needed, and this need led to the invention of new 
operations and symbolic systems. The Cartesian analytics and 
the calculuses of Leibniz and Newton are cases in point. Such 
developments have created a definite body of subject-matter 
that, historically, is as empirical as is the historic sequence of, 
say, spinning-machines. Such a body of material arouses need 
for examination on its own account. It is subjected to careful 
inspection with reference to the relations found within its own 
content. Indications of superfluous operations are eliminated ; 
ambiguities are detected and analysed; massed operations are 
broken up into definite constituents; gaps and unexplained 
jumps are made good by insertion of connecting operations. 
In short, certain canons of rigorous interrelation of operations 
are developed and the old material is correspondingly revised 
and extended. 

Nor is the work merely one of analytic revision. The 
detection, for example, of the logical looseness of the 
Euclidean postulate regarding parallels suggested operations 
previously unthought of, and opened up new fields those of 
the hyper-geometries. Moreover, the possibility of combining 
various existing branches of geometry as special cases of more 
comprehensive operations (illustrated by the same instance) 
led to creation of mathematics of a higher order of generality. 


I am not interested in tracing the history of mathematics. 
What is wanted is to indicate that once the idea of possible 
operations, indicated by symbols and performed only by means 
of symbols, is discovered, the road is opened to operations of 
ever increasing definiteness and comprehensiveness. Any group 
of symbolic operations suggests further operations that may 
be performed. Technical symbols are framed with precisely 
this end in view. They have three traits that distinguish them 
from casual terms and ideas. They are selected with a view to 
designating unambiguously one mode of interaction and one 
only. They are linked up with symbols of other operations 
forming a system such that transition is possible with the 
utmost economy of energy from one to another. And the 
aim is that these transitions may occur as far as possible in 
any direction, i. " Water" for example suggests an indefinite 
number of acts; seeing, tasting, drinking, washing, without 
specification of one in preference to another. It also marks 
off water from other colourless liquids only in a vague way. 

2. At the same time, it is restricted; it does not connect the 
liquid with solid and gaseous forms, and still less does it 
indicate operations which link the production of water to 
other things into which its constituents, oxygen and hydrogen, 
enter. It is isolated instead of being a transitive concept. 

3. The chemical conception, symbolized by H 2 O, not only 
meets these two requirements which "water" fails to meet, 
but oxygen and hydrogen are in turn connected with the whole 
system of chemical elements and specified combinations among 
them in a systematic way. Starting from the elements and the 
relation defined in H 2 O one can, so to speak, travel through 
all the whole scope and range of complex and varied pheno- 
mena. Thus the scientific conception carries thought and 
action away from qualities which are finalities as they are 
found in direct perception and use, to the mode of pro- 
duction of these qualities, and it performs this task in a way 
which links this mode of generation to a multitude of other 


"efficient" causal conditions in the most economical and effec- 
tive manner. 

Mathematical conceptions, by means of symbols of operations 
that are irrespective of actual performance, carry abstraction 
much further; one has only to contrast "2" as attached 
physically to H, to "2" as pure number. The latter designates 
an operative relation applicable to anything whatsoever, though 
not actually applied to any specified object. And, of course, 
it stands in defined relations to all other numbers, and by a 
system of correspondences with continuous quantities as well. 
That numbers disregard all qualitative distinctions is a familiar 
fact. This disregard is the consequence of construction of 
symbols dealing with possible operations in abstraction from 
the actuality of performance. If time and knowledge permitted, 
it could be shown that the difficulties and paradoxes which 
have been found to attend the logic of number disappear when 
instead of their being treated as either essences or as properties 
of things in existence, they are viewed as designations of 
potential operations. Mathematical space is not a kind of space 
distinct from so-called physical and empirical space, but is 
a name given to operations ideally or formally possible with 
respect to things having spacious qualities: it is not a mode of 
Being, but a way of thinking things so that connections among 
them are liberated from fixity in experience and implication 
from one to another is made possible. 

The distinction between physical and mathematical con- 
ception may be brought out by noting an ambiguity in the 
term "possible" operations. Its primary meaning is actually, 
existentially, possible. Any idea as such designates an operation 
that may be performed, not something in actual existence. The 
idea of the sweetness of, say, sugar, is an indication of the 
consequences of a possible operation of tasting as distinct 
from a directly experienced quality. Mathematical ideas are 
designations of possible operations in another and secondary 
sense, previously expressed in speaking of the possibility of 


symbolic operations with respect to one another. This sense 
of possibility is compossibility of operations, not possibility 
of performance with respect to existence. Its test is non- 
incompatibility. The statement of this test as consistency 
hardly carries the full meaning. For consistency is readily 
interpreted to signify the conformity of one meaning with 
others already had, and is in so far restrictive. "Non-incom- 
patibility" indicates that all developments are welcome as 
long as they do not conflict with one another, or as long as 
restatement of an operation prevents actual conflict. It is a 
canon of liberation rather than of restriction. It may be com- 
pared with natural selection, which is a principle of elimination 
but not one controlling positive development. 

Mathematics and formal logic thus mark highly specialized 
branches of intellectual industry, whose working principles 
are very similar to those of works of fine art. The trait that 
strikingly characterizes them is combination of freedom with 
rigour freedom with respect to development of new operations 
and ideas; rigour with respect to formal compossibilities. The 
combination of these qualities, characteristic also of works of 
great art, gives the subject great fascination for some minds. 
But the belief that these qualifications remove mathematical 
objects from all connection with existence expresses a religious 
mood rather than a scientific discovery. 1 

The significant difference is that of two types of possibility 
of operation, material and symbolic. This distinction when 
frozen into the dogma of two orders of Being, existence and 
essence, gives rise to the notion that there are two types of 

1 "The long-continued and infrequently interrupted study of abso- 
lutely invariant existences exercises a powerful hypnotic influence on 
the mind. . . . The world which it separates from the rest of experience 
and makes into the whole of being is a world of unchanging and 
apparently eternal order, the only Absolute cold intellect need not 
reject. A conviction thus establishes itself which finally affects the 
whole of waking thought : that in this experience one has at last dis- 
covered the eternal and ultimate truth." Barry, op. cit., pp. 182-183. 


logic and two criteria of truth, the formal and the material, 
of which the formal is higher and more fundamental. In truth, 
the formal development is a specialized offshoot of material 
thinking. It is derived ultimately from acts performed, and 
constitutes an extension of such acts, made possible by symbols, 
on the basis of congruity with one another. Consequently 
formal logic represents an analysis of exclusively symbolic 
operations ; it is, in a pregnant and not external sense, symbolic 
logic. This interpretation of mathematical and (formal) 
logical ideas is not a disparagement of them except from 
a mystical point of view. Symbols, as has already been noted, 
afford the only way of escape from submergence in existence. 
The liberation afforded by the free symbolism of mathematics 
is often a means of ulterior return to existential operations 
that have a scope and penetrating power not otherwise 
attainable. The history of science is full of illustrations of 
cases in which mathematical ideas for which no physical 
application was known suggested in time new existential 

The theory which has been advanced of the nature of 
essences (universals, invariants) may be tested by comparing 
the conditions which symbolic operations fulfil with the attri- 
butes traditionally imputed to the former. These attributes 
are ideality, universality, immutability, formality, and the 
subsistence of relations of implication that make deduction 
possible. There is a one to one correspondence between these 
characters and those of objects of thought which are defined 
in terms of operations that are compossible with respect to 
one another. 

The correspondence will be approached by pointing out 
the traits of a machine which marks its structure in view of 
the function it fulfils. It is obvious that this structure can be 
understood not by sense but only by thought of the relations 
which the parts of the machine sustain to one another, in con- 
nection with the work the machine as a whole performs (the 


consequences it effects). Sensibly, one is merely overwhelmed 
in the presence of a machine by noises and forms. Clarity and 
order of perceived objects are introduced when forms are 
judged in relation to operations, and these in turn in relation to 
work done. Movements may be seen in isolation, and products, 
goods turned out, may be perceived in isolation. The machine 
is known only when these are thought in connection with one 
another. In this thought, motions and parts are judged as 
means] they are referred intellectually to something else; to 
think of anything as means is to apprehend an object in 
relation. Correlatively, the physical effect is judged as con- 
sequence something related. The relation of means-consequence 
may thus justifiably be termed ideal in the sense of ideational. 

Operations as such, that is, as connective interactions, are 
uniform. Physically and sensibly, a machine changes through 
friction, exposure to weather, etc., while products vary in 
quality. Processes are local and temporal, particular. But the 
relation of means and consequence which defines an operation 
remains one and the same in spite of these variations. It is a 
universal. A machine turns out a succession of steel spheres, 
like ball-bearings. These closely resemble one another, because 
they are products of like process. But there is no absolute 
exactitude among them. Each process is individual and not 
exactly identical with others. But the function for which the 
machine is designed does not alter with these changes; an 
operation, being a relation, is not a process. An operation 
determines any number of processes and products all differing 
from one another; but being a telephone or a cutting tool is 
a self-identical universal, irrespective of the multiplicity of 
special objects which manifest the function. 

The relation is thus invariant. It is eternal, not in the sense 
of enduring throughout all time, or being everlasting like an 
Aristotelean species or a Newtonian substance, but in the sense 
that an operation as a relation which is grasped in thought is 
independent of the instances in which it is overtly exemplified, 


although its meaning is found only in the possibility of these 

The relation, between things as means and things as con- 
sequences, which defines a machine is ideal in another sense. 
It is the standard by which the value of existential processes 
is estimated. The deterioration or improvement in use of a 
concrete machine and the worth of an invention are judged 
by reference to efficiency in accomplishment of a function. The 
more adequately the functional relation can be apprehended 
in the abstract, the better can the engineer detect defects in 
an existent machine and project improvements in it. Thus the 
thought of it operates as a model ; it has an archetypal character 
with respect to particular machines. 

Thought of an object as an ideal therefore determines a 
characteristic internal structure or form. This formal structure 
is only approximated by existing things. One may conceive 
of a steam-engine which has a one hundred per cent, efficiency, 
although no such ideal is even remotely approached in actuality. 
Or, one may like Helmholtz conceive an ideal optical apparatus 
in which the defects of the existing human eye are not found. 
The ideal relationship of means to ends exists as a formal 
possibility determined by the nature of the case even though 
it be not thought of, much less realized in fact. It subsists 
as a possibility, and as a possibility it is in its formal structure 
necessary. That is to say, the conditions which have to be 
met and fulfilled in the idea of a machine having an efficiency 
of one hundred per cent, are set by the necessities of the case; 
they do not alter with defects in our apprehension of them. 
Hence essences may be regarded as having Being independent 
of and logically prior to our thought of them. There is, how- 
ever, in this fact nothing of the mystery or transcendental 
character which is often associated with it. It signifies that 
if one is to attain a specified result one must conform to 
the conditions which are means of securing this result; if 
one is to get the result with the maximum of efficiency, 


there are conditions having a necessary relationship to that 

This necessity of a structure marked by formal relationships 
which fulfil the conditions of serving as means for an end, 
accounts for the relations of implication which make deduction 
possible. One goes into a factory and finds that the operation 
of reaching an end, say, making in quantity shoes of a uniform 
standard, is subdivided into a number of processes, each of 
which is adapted to the one which precedes, and, until the 
final one, to that which follows. One does not make a miracle 
or mystery of the fact that while each machine and each pro- 
cess is physically separate, nevertheless all are adapted to one 
another. For he knows that they have been designed, through 
a "rationalization" of the undertaking, to effect this end. 

The act of knowing is also highly complex. Experience 
shows that it also may be best effected by analysis into a 
number of distinct processes, which bear a serial relation to 
one another. Terms and propositions which symbolize the 
possible operations that are to control these processes are 
designed so that they will lead one to another with the maximum 
of definiteness, flexibility and fertility. In other words, they 
are constructed with reference to the function of implication. 
Deduction or dialectic is the operation of developing these 
implications, which may be novel and unexpected just as a 
tool often gives unexpected results when working under new 
conditions. One is entitled to marvel at the constructive power 
with which symbols have been devised having far-reaching 
and fruitful implications. But the wonder is misdirected when 
it is made the ground for hypostatizing the objects of thought 
into a realm of transcendent Being. 

This phase of the discussion is not complete till it has been 
explicitly noted that all general conceptions (ideas, theories, 
thought) are hypothetical. Ability to frame hypotheses is the 
means by which man is liberated from submergence in the 
existences that surround him and that play upon him physically 


and sensibly. It is the positive phase of abstraction. But 
hypotheses are conditional; they have to be tested by the 
consequences of the operations they define and direct. The 
discovery of the value of hypothetical ideas when employed 
to suggest and direct concrete processes, and the vast extension 
of this operation in the modern history of science, mark a 
great emancipation and correspondent increase of intellectual 
control. But their final value is not determined by their internal 
elaboration and consistency, but by the consequences they 
effect in existence as that is perceptibly experienced. Scientific 
conceptions are not a revelation of prior and independent 
reality. They are a system of hypotheses, worked out under 
conditions of definite test, by means of which our intellectual 
and practical traffic with nature is rendered freer, more secure 
and more significant. 

Our discussion has been one-sided in that it has dealt with the 
matter of conceptions mainly in reference to the " rationalistic" 
tradition of interpretation. The reasons for this emphasis are 
too patent to need exposition. But before leaving the topic, 
it should be noted that traditional empiricism has also misread 
the significance of conceptions or general ideas. It has steadily 
opposed the doctrine of their a priori character; it has con- 
nected them with experience of the actual world. But even more 
obviously than the rationalism it has opposed, empiricism has 
connected the origin, content and measure of validity of general 
ideas with antecedent existence. According to it, concepts are 
formed by comparing particular objects, already perceived, 
with one another, and then eliminating the elements in which 
they disagree and retaining that which they have in common. 
Concepts are thus simply memoranda of identical features 
in objects already perceived ; they are conveniences, bunching 
together a variety of things scattered about in concrete 
experience. But they have to be proved by agreement with 
the material of particular antecedent experiences; their value 
and function is essentially retrospective. Such ideas are dead, 


incapable of performing a regulative office in new situations. 
They are "empirical" in the sense in which the term is opposed 
to scientific that is, they are mere summaries of results 
obtained under more or less accidental circumstances. 

Our next chapter will be devoted to explicit consideration 
of the historic philosophies of empiricism and rationalism 
about the nature of knowledge. Before passing to this theme, 
we conclude with a summary statement of the more important 
results reached in the present phase of discussion. First, the 
active and productive character of ideas, of thought, is manifest. 
The motivating desire of idealistic systems of philosophy is 
justified. But the constructive office of thought is empirical 
that is, experimental. "Thought" is not a property of some- 
thing termed intellect or reason apart from nature. It is a 
mode of directed overt action. Ideas are anticipatory plans 
and designs which take effect in concrete reconstructions of 
antecedent conditions of existence. They are not innate 
properties of mind corresponding to ultimate prior traits of 
Being, nor are they a priori categories imposed on sense in 
a wholesale, once-for-all way, prior to experience so as to 
make it possible. The active power of ideas is a reality, but 
ideas and idealisms have an operative force in concrete 
experienced situations; their worth has to be tested by the 
specified consequences of their operation. Idealism is some- 
thing experimental not abstractly rational; it is related to 
experienced needs and concerned with projection of operations 
which remake the actual content of experienced objects. 

Secondly, ideas and idealisms are in themselves hypotheses 
not finalities. Being connected with operations to be performed, 
they are tested by the consequences of these operations, not 
by what exists prior to them. Prior experience supplies the 
conditions which evoke ideas and of which thought has to 
take account, with which it must reckon. It furnishes both 
obstacles to attainment of what is desired and the resources 
that must be used to attain it. Conception and systems of 


conceptions, ends in view and plans, are constantly making and 
remaking as fast as those already in use reveal their weak- 
nesses, defects and positive values. There is no predestined 
course they must follow. Human experience consciously guided 
by ideas evolves its own standards and measures and each new 
experience constructed by their means is an opportunity for 
new ideas and ideals. 

In the third place, action is at the heart of ideas. The 
experimental practice of knowing, when taken to supply the 
pattern of philosophic doctrine of mind and its organs, 
eliminates the age-old separation of theory and practice. It 
discloses that knowing is itself a kind of action, the only one 
which progressively and securely clothes natural existence with 
realized meanings. For the outcome of experienced objects 
which are begot by operations which define thinking, take into 
themselves, as part of their own funded and incorporated 
meaning, the relation to other things disclosed by thinking. 
There are no sensory or perceived objects fixed in themselves. 
In the course of experience, as far as that is an outcome 
influenced by thinking, objects perceived, used and enjoyed 
take up into their own meaning the results of thought; they 
become ever richer and fuller of meanings. This issue con- 
stitutes the last significance of the philosophy of experimental 
idealism. Ideas direct operations; the operations have a result 
in which ideas are no longer abstract, mere ideas, but where 
they qualify sensible objects. The road from a perceptible 
experience which is blind, obscure, fragmentary, meagre in 
meaning, to objects of sense which are also objects which 
satisfy, reward and feed intelligence is through ideas that are 
experimental and operative. 

Our conclusion depends upon an analysis of what takes 
place in the experimental inquiry of natural science. It goes 
without saying that the wider scope of human experience, 
that which is concerned with distinctively human conditions 
and ends, does not comport, as it currently exists, with the 



result that the examination of natural science yields. The 
genuinely philosophic force, as distinct from a technical one, 
of the conclusion reached lies in precisely this incongruity. 
The fact that the most exacting type of experience has attained 
a marvellous treasury of working ideas that are used in control 
of objects is an indication of possibilities as yet unattained in 
less restricted forms of experience. Negatively, the result 
indicates the need of thoroughgoing revision of ideas of mind 
and thought and their connection with natural things that were 
formed before the rise of experimental inquiry; such is the 
critical task imposed on contemporary thought. Positively, the 
result achieved in science is a challenge to philosophy to 
consider the possibility of the extension of the method of 
operative intelligence to direction of life in other fields. 



THE DISPUTE AS TO whether reason and conception or percep- 
tion and sense are the source and test of ultimate knowledge 
is one of the most enduring in the history of thought. It has 
affected philosophy from the side of both the nature of the 
object of knowledge and the mental faculty operating to obtain 
it. From the side of the object those who put forward the claims 
of reason have placed the universal higher than the individual ; 
those who have held to perception have reversed the order. 
From the side of mind, one school has emphasized the synthetic 
action of conceptions. The other school has dwelt upon the 
fact that in sensation the mind does not interfere with the 
action of objects in writing their own report. The opposition has 
extended to problems of conduct and society. On the one hand, 
there is emphasis upon the necessity of control by rational 
standards; on the other hand, the dynamic quality of wants 
has been insisted upon together with the intimately personal 
character of their satisfaction as against the pale remoteness of 
pure thought. On the political side, there is a like division 
between the adherents of order and organization, those who 
feel that reason alone gives security, and those interested in 
freedom, innovation and progress, those who have used the 
claims of the individual and his desires as a philosophical 

The controversy is acute and long-standing. In consequence 
of it, philosophers have expended energy in controversy with 
one another, and the guidance they have given to practical 
affairs has been largely by way of support to partisans of 
contending forces. The situation raises a further point in our 
inquiry: What is the bearing of the experimental theory of 
knowing upon the rival contentions? The first point which 
presents itself is that the object of knowledge is eventual; 


that is, it is an outcome of directed experimental operations, 
instead of something in sufficient existence before the act of 
knowing. The further point to be presented is that, along with 
this change, sensible and rational factors cease to be com- 
petitors for primary rank. They are allies, co-operating to make 
knowledge possible. Isolation from each other is an expression 
of the isolation of each from organic connection with action. 
When theory is placed in opposition to practice, there is ground 
for dispute as to whether primacy in theory shall go to sense 
or intellect. Directed activity demands ideas which go beyond 
the results of past perceptions, for it goes out to meet future 
and as yet unexperienced situations. But it deals, both in origin 
and outcome, with things which can be had only directly, 
through immediate perception and enjoyment. 

The three chief contending doctrines in this field are 
sensational empiricism, rationalism and Kantianism, with its 
compromise of the factors isolated in the two other schools. 
The doctrine of Kant has a superficial resemblance to the one 
just stated ; it insists upon the necessity of both perception and 
ideas if there is to be knowledge. It is convenient, accordingly, 
to begin discussion with it. The element of similarity is 
suggested by Kant's well-known saying that perception without 
conception is blind, conception without perception empty. 
His doctrine none the less is fundamentally different from that 
which results from an analysis of experimental knowing. The 
fundamental difference lies in the fact that, according to the 
latter, the distinction of sense and thought occurs within the 
process of reflective inquiry, and the two are connected together 
by means of operations overtly performed. In the Kantian 
scheme, the two originally exist in independence of each other, 
and their connection is established by operations that are 
covert and are performed in the hidden recesses of mind, once 
for all. As to their original difference, sense-material is impressed 
from without, while connective conceptions are supplied from 
within the understanding. As to connection, synthesis takes 


place not intentionally and by means of the controlled art of 
investigation, but automatically and all at once. 

From the experimental point of view, the art of knowing 
demands skill in selecting appropriate sense-data on one side 
and connecting principles, or conceptual theories, on the other. 
It requires a developed and constantly progressive technique 
to settle upon both the observational data and the idea that 
assist inquiry in reaching a conclusion in any particular case. 
But in Kant's view, the distinction and the connection between 
the two, while necessary to anything which may be termed 
cognition, have nothing to do with the validity of any par- 
ticular enterprise of knowing. Illusion and error exemplify the 
synthesis of sense and understanding quite as much as does the 
soundest instance of scientific discovery. In one case, the heart 
of the whole matter is the exercise of a differential control 
which makes the difference between good and bad knowing. 
In Kant's scheme the blessings of the categories descend upon 
the material of sense without reference to making a distinction 
between the true and the false. 

We summarize the differences as follows, i. In experimental 
knowing, the antecedent is always the subject-matter of some 
experience which has its origin in natural causes, but which, 
not having been controlled in its occurrence, is uncertain and 
problematic. Original objects of experience are produced by 
the natural interactions of organism and environment, and in 
themselves are neither sensible, conceptual nor a mixture of 
the two. They are precisely the qualitative material of all our 
ordinary untested experiences. 2. The distinction between 
sense-data and interpretative ideas is deliberately instituted by 
the process of inquiry, for sake of carrying it forward to an 
adequately tested conclusion, one with a title to acceptance. 
3. Hence each term of the distinction is not absolute and fixed, 
but is contingent and tentative. Each is subject to revision as 
we find observational data which supply better evidence, and 
as the growth of science provides better directive hypotheses 


to draw upon. 4. Hence the materials selected to serve as data 
and as regulative principles constantly check one another; any 
advance in one brings about a corresponding improvement in 
the other. The two are constantly working together to effect 
a rearrangement of the original experienced material in the 
construction of a new object having the properties that make 
it understood or known. 

These statements are formal, but their meaning is not 
recondite. Any scientific investigation illustrates their sig- 
nificance. The astronomer, chemist, botanist, start from the 
material of gross unanalysed experience, that of the "common- 
sense" world in which we live, suffer, act and enjoy; from 
familiar stars, suns, moons, from acids, salts and metals, trees, 
mosses and growing plants. Then the process of investigation 
divides into two kinds of operations. One is that of careful 
and analytic observation to determine exactly what there is 
which is indubitably seen, touched and heard. An operation 
takes place to discover what the sure data of the problem are, 
the evidence which theoretical explanation must reckon with. 
The other operation consists in searching through previous 
knowledge to obtain ideas which may be used to interpret this 
observed material and to suggest the initiation of new experi- 
ments. By these latter, more data are had, and the additional 
evidence they supply suggests new ideas and more experiments 
until the problem is resolved. The investigator never makes 
the division between perceptual and conceptual material at 
large or wholesale. He is careful at each stage of inquiry to 
discriminate between what he has observed and what is a 
matter of theory and ideas, using the latter as means of directing 
further observations, the results of which test the application 
of the ideas and theories employed. Finally, the original 
material is reorganized into a coherent and settled form capable 
of entering integrally into the general system of science. 

A physician, for example, is called by a patient. His original 


of useless imagination to fancy that the ill man is a mass of 
sense data organized by categories. This experienced object 
sets the problem of inquiry. Certain clinical operations are 
performed, sounding, tapping, getting registrations of pulse, 
temperature, respiration, etc. These constitute the symptoms; 
they supply the evidence to be interpreted. The philosopher 
or logician, looking on, sees they are that part of the original 
object which is capable of being presented in observation 
as that is sensibly present. The results are not all that is or 
can be observed, but are those phases and portions of the 
experienced whole that are judged to be relevant to making an 
inference as to the nature of the ailment. The observations 
mean something not in and of themselves, but are given 
meaning in the light of the systematized knowledge of medicine 
as far as that is at the command of the practitioner. He calls 
upon his store of knowledge to suggest ideas that may aid 
him in reaching a judgment as to the nature of the trouble 
and its proper treatment. The analytic philosopher, looking on, 
notes that the interpreting material, by means of which the 
scattered data of sense are bound together into a coherent 
whole, is not itself directly sensibly present. So he calls it 
ideational or conceptual. 

Sense-data are signs which direct this selection of ideas; 
the ideas when suggested arouse new observations; the two 
together determine his final judgment or diagnosis and his 
procedure. Something is then added to the store of the clinical 
material of medical art so that subsequent observations of 
symptoms are refined and extended, and the store of material 
from which to draw ideas is further enlarged. To this process 
of co-operation of observation and conceptual or general ideas 
there is no limit. In no case are the data the whole of the 
original object; they are material selected for the purpose 
of serving as evidence and signs. In no case do general ideas, 
principles, laws, conceptions, determine the conclusion 
although just as some men collect fragmentary observations 


without trying to find out what they mean, so in other cases 
an unskilled worker permits some preconceived idea to control 
his decision instead of using it as a hypothesis. 

The case seems simple enough, so simple indeed that it 
may be supposed that we have overlooked the conditions which 
have created perplexity and controversy. But the source of 
these complications is that theories about the mind, about sen- 
sation and perception, about reason, the intellect, conception 
and perception, were framed and established in philosophy 
before the rise of experimental knowing. It is difficult to break 
loose from habits thus engendered so as to turn attention in 
a whole-hearted way to actual inquiry. While it may seem 
presumptuous to set up the case of the physician or some 
other concrete inquirer over against the elaborate machinery 
of the Critique of Pure Reason and the countless tomes of 
commentary it has called forth, our picture has behind it the 
whole weight of the experimental practices by which science 
has been actually advanced. 

More specifically, it may be asserted that the Kantian theory 
went wrong because it took distinctions that are genuine and 
indispensable out of their setting and function in actual inquiry. 
It generalized them into fixed and wholesale distinctions, losing 
sight of their special roles in attainment of those tested beliefs 
which give security. Consequently artificial complications were 
engendered and insoluble puzzles created. 

Take for example the fragmentary and isolated character of 
sense-data. Taken in isolation from a context in a particular 
inquiry they undoubtedly have this character. Hence when 
they are generalized into a character at large, the result is 
the doctrine of the disconnected "atomicity" of sense-data. 
This doctrine is common to sensationalism and to some forms 
of the new realism, along with Kantianism. As a matter of 
fact, smells, tastes, sounds, pressures, colours, etc., are not 
isolated ; they are bound together by all kinds of interactions or 
connections, among which are included the habitual responses 


of the one having the experience. Some connections are organic, 
flowing from the constitution of the subject. Others have 
become engrained in habit because of education and the 
customary state of culture. But these habitual connections 
are obstacles rather than aids. Some of them are irrelevant and 
misleading. In any case, they fail to provide the clues, the 
evidence which is wanted in the particular inquiry in hand. 
Consequently, sense qualities are artificially isolated from their 
ordinary connections so that the inquirer is free to see them 
in a new light or as constituents of a new object. 

Since the very need for inquiry shows that there is a problem 
set by the existing situation, there can be no understanding 
of it achieved until there are new connections established. The 
fragmentary and isolated character of sense-data does not 
therefore describe anything belonging to them intrinsically, 
but marks a transitory, although necessary, stage in the progress 
of inquiry. The isolation of sense-data from their status and 
office in furthering the objective of knowing is responsible for 
treating them as a kind of isolated atomic existence. If we 
keep an eye on the actual enterprise of knowing, it is clear 
that only sense-data can supply evidential subject-matter ; ideas 
of what is not presented in sense interpret evidence, but they 
cannot constitute it. The whole history of science shows, 
however, that material directly and originally observed does 
not furnish good evidential material; as we saw, it was the 
essential mistake of ancient science to suppose that we can 
base inference upon observed objects without an artificial 
prior analytic resolution. Hence there is need of a distinctive 
type of experimental operations which detach some qualities 
of the object ; these form sense-data in the technical meaning 
of the word. 

Traditional empiricism was accordingly right in insisting 
that no amount of conceptions, of thought material, could by 
itself deliver any knowledge of existence, no matter how 
elaborate be the conceptual system and how internally coherent. 


We cannot derive existence from thoughtpace idealism. 
Observed material is necessary to suggest ideas and it is equally 
necessary to test them. The senses are, existentially speaking, 
the organs by which we obtain the material of observation. 
But, as we have previously noted, this material is significant 
and effective for purposes of knowing only as it is connected 
with operations of which it is the product. Merely physical 
interactions, whether of external things or of the organism, 
yield observations that form the material of inquiry; a prob- 
lematic material. Only operations intentionally performed and 
attentively noted in connection with their products give observed 
material a positive intellectual value, and this condition is 
satisfied only by thought: ideas are the perception of this 
connection. Even non-scientific experience, as far as it has 
meaning, is neither mere doing nor mere undergoing, but is 
an acknowledgment of the connection between something done 
and something undergone in consequence of the doing. 

In its later history, empiricism tended to identify sensory 
consequences with " mental' ' or psychical states and processes; 
this identification was the logical conclusion of taking the 
object of science, in which these qualities are not found, as 
the real object. But the insistence, as by contemporary realists, 
that sense-data are external and not mental does not remedy 
the logical error. It repeats the isolation of sense-data from 
the intentional operations by which they are supplied and 
from the purpose and function of these operations. Hence it 
makes it necessary to call in the supplement of logical objects, 
now termed essences. What is even more important, no light 
is thrown upon the control of the course of actual inquiry. 
For there is still failure to see that the distinction between 
sense-data and objects of rational apprehension is one which 
occurs within reflective investigation, for the sake of regulating 
its procedure. 

The history of the theory of knowledge or epistemology 
would have been verv different if instead of the word "data" 


or "givens", it had happened to start with calling the qualities 
in question "takens". Not that the data are not existential and 
qualities of the ultimately "given" that is, the total subject- 
matter which is had in non-cognitive experiences. But as data 
they are selected from this total original subject-matter which 
gives the impetus to knowing; they are discriminated for a 
purpose: that, namely, of affording signs or evidence to 
define and locate a problem, and thus give a clue to its 

If we recur to the instance of the patient and the inquiries 
of the physician, it is evident that the presence of a man who 
is ill is the "given", and that this given is complex, marked 
by all kinds of diverse qualities. Only the assumption such 
is made by Kant and is common to the traditional theories 
that all experience is inherently cognitive leads to the doctrine 
that perception of the patient is a case of knowledge. In reality 
the original perception furnishes the problem for knowing; it 
is something to be known, not an object of knowing. And in 
knowing, the first thing to be done is to select from the mass 
of presented qualities those which, in distinction from other 
qualities, throw light upon the nature of the trouble. As they 
are deliberately selected, being discriminated by special tech- 
nical operations, they become data; these are called sensible 
simply because of the role of sense organs in their generation. 
They may then be formulated as the subject-matter of primitive 
existential propositions. But even so, there is no class of such 
propositions in general. Each inquiry yields its own primitive 
existential propositions, even though they all agree in having 
for their objects qualities which investigation reveals to be 
connected with the use of organs of sense. Moreover, these 
primitive propositions are such only in a logical sense as 
distinct from being empirically primitive, and they are only 
hypothetical or conditional. This statement does not imply 
that their existence is hypothetical; perception, as far as it is 
properly conducted, warrants their existence. But their status 


in inquiry is tentative. Many, perhaps most, errors in physical 
inference arise from taking as data things that are not data 
from the problem in hand ; they undoubtedly exist, but they are 
not the evidence that is demanded. In some respects, the more 
undoubted the existence of sensory qualities, the less certain is 
their meaning for inference; the very fact that a quality is 
glaringly obvious in perception exercises an undue influence, 
leading thought to take its evident presence as an equivalent of 
evidential value. The reader of detective stories is aware that 
it is a common device to have the inquirer misled by the too 
patent character of given "clues"; genuine clues are usually 
obscure and have to be searched out. The conditional character 
of sense-data in inferential inquiry means, then, that they have 
to be tested by their consequences. They are good clues or 
evidence when they instigate operations whose effect is to solve 
the problem in hand. 

It is hardly necessary to repeat the criticisms of the rational- 
istic doctrine of conceptions that have been brought out in 
previous chapters. The doctrine stood for a positive truth: 
the necessity of relations, of connectivity in existence and 
knowledge, and it noted the fact of the connection of relations 
with thought. For while some connections are always found 
in the material of experienced things, the fact that as experienced 
these things are problematic and not definitely known, means 
that important relations are not presented in them as they 
stand. These relations have to be projected in anticipation 
if the reactions of the inquiries are not blind fumblings if 
they are genuinely experimental. Such relations must be 
thought ; they are present conceptually, not sensibly. They 
represent possible consequences of operations, and the possible 
and the conceivable are one. Just as sensationalism ignores the 
functional role and hypothetical status of sensible qualities 
in an inquiry, so rationalism makes a fixed and independent 
matter out of the utility of conceptions in directing inquiry 
to solve particular problems. 


The object of this criticism of historical theories of know- 
ledge is not just to cast discredit upon them. It is to direct 
attention to the source of their errors. As soon as and when- 
ever it is assumed that the office of knowledge is to lay hold 
of existence which is prior to and apart from the operations 
of inquiry and their consequences, one or other of these errors 
or some combination of both of them is inevitable. Either 
logical characters belonging to the operations of effective 
inquiry are read into antecedent existence; or the world as 
known is reduced to a pulverized multiplicity of atomically 
isolated elements, a Kantian "manifold"; or some machinery 
Is devised, whether of an "idealistic" or a "realistic" sort, to 
bring the two together. 

When, on the other hand, it is seen that the object of 
knowledge is prospective and eventual, being the result of 
inferential or reflective operations which redispose what was 
antecedently existent, the subject-matters called respectively 
sensible and conceptual are seen to be complementary in 
effective direction of inquiry to an intelligible conclusion. 

There is another way of discussing the fundamental issue 
which does not involve so much going over topics worn thread- 
bare by previous discussion. In effect, traditional theories treat 
all reflective or inferential knowledge as cases of "explanation", 
and by explanation is meant making some seemingly new 
object or problem plain and clear by identifying its elements 
with something previously known, ultimately something said 
to be known immediately and intuitively, or without inference. 
In traditional theory, "discursive" knowledge, that involving 
reflection, must always be referred for its validation back to 
what is immediately known. It cannot bring its credentials 
with it and test its results in the very process of reaching them. 
There is postulated identity implicit or explicit of the results 
of inference with things known without inference. Making the 
identity explicit constitutes proof. 

There are many different and opposed theories regarding 


the way in which this identification takes place. There is a 
doctrine that the operation is one of subsumption of given 
particulars under given universals; that it is classificatory 
definition ; that it is a kind of Platonic reminiscence in which 
perceptual material is cognized by being identified with a priori 
forms; that it is a case of schematization a la Kant; that it 
is an assimilation of present sensations to images that revive 
previous sensations. These theories differ widely among them- 
selves; they are irreconcilable with one another. But they all 
have one premise in common. They all assume that the 
conclusions of reflective inference must be capable of reduction 
to things already known if they are to be proved. The quarrel 
between them is strictly domestic, all in the family. The 
differences between them concern the character of the original 
immediately known objects with which the conclusions of 
reflection must be identified in order to be really known. They 
all involve the supposed necessity that whatever is a product 
of inference must, in order to be valid knowledge, be reducible 
to something already known immediately. Thus they all take 
the element of knowledge found in inferential conclusions to 
be simply a matter of restatement. 1 

The especial significance of the experimental procedure 
is that it scraps once for all the notion that the results of 
inference must be validated by operations of identification of 
whatever sort. When we compare the premise which underlies 
all the different theories that assume a primitive mode of 

1 The logic of Stuart Mill is the classic logic of sensational empiri- 
cism. Yet he demanded "canons'* of proof for induction as rigorous as 
those of Aristotle were for syllogistic reasoning. The essence of these 
canons is that proof consists in identification of the results of inference 
with particulars given in sense, just as with Aristotle demonstration 
consisted in subsuming them under independently given universals. 
That the latter was influenced by Euclidean geometry with its assump- 
tion of axioms as self-evident truths we have already noticed. Mathe- 
maticians now recognize that indemonstrables and indefinables are 
starting-points of operations and that in themselves they have neither 
meaning nor " truth". 


direct knowledge (knowledge which does not include reflection) 
with the practice of experimental science, according to which 
only the conclusion of reflective inquiry is known, we find three 
marked points of contrast. The first difference is that the 
traditional theories make all reflective knowledge to be a case 
of recognition going back to an earlier more certain form of 
knowledge. The second is that they have no place for genuine 
discovery or creative novelty. The third point concerns the 
dogmatic character of the assumption regarding what is said 
to be immediately known, in contrast with the experimentally 
tested character of the object known in consequence of 

We begin with the last point. When it is stated that the 
conclusions of knowledge involving inference must be sub- 
ordinated to knowledge which is had directly and immediately, 
and must be carried to the latter for proof and verification, we 
are at once struck by the multitude of theories regarding what 
is immediately and infallibly known. The diversity and con- 
tradictions give ground for a suspicion that in no case is the 
"knowledge" in question as self-evident as it is asserted to be. 
And there is good theoretical ground for the suspicion. Suppose 
a man "explains" the eclipse of the moon by saying it is due 
to the attempt of a dragon to devour it. To him the devouring 
dragon is a more evident fact than is the darkening of the 
moon. To us the existence of an animal capable of such a feat 
is the doubtful matter. It will be objected that it is unfair to 
take such an absurd case as an instance: dragons are not the 
sort of thing which any philosopher has asserted to be the 
object of direct and certain non-inferential knowledge. But 
the illustration still serves a purpose. 

The thing to be known is "explained" by identification 
with something else. What guarantees this something else? 
If it too has to be guaranteed by identification with something 
else, there is an infinite regress. To avoid this regress we stop 
short and assert that this or that object or truth is directly 


known, by sense intuition, by rational intuition, as a direct 
deliverance of consciousness, or in some other way. But what 
is such a procedure except the essence of what Bentham called 
ipse dixitism ? What is it but arbitrary dogmatism ? Who guards 
the guardians ? The theory which places knowledge in rounded 
out conclusions is in no such dilemma. It admits the hypothetical 
status of all data and premises and appeals for justification to 
operations capable, when they are repeated, of yielding like 
results. The antecedents do not have to be substantiated by 
being carried back to earlier antecedents and so on; they are 
good and sound if they do what is wanted of them: if they 
lead to an observable result which satisfies the conditions set 
by the nature of the problem in hand. 

The significance of this point comes out more clearly in 
dealing with the genuineness of discovery or new knowledge. 
By terms of the traditional theories, this is impossible in the 
case of inference and reflective inquiry. We know, according to 
them, only when we have assimilated the seemingly new to 
something previously known immediately. In consequence, 
all distinctive individual, or non-repeated, traits of things are 
incapable of being known. What cannot be treated as a case 
of something else stays outside knowledge. Individualized 
characteristics are unknowable surds. 

According to this doctrine, reflective inquiry may hit upon 
new instances of laws, new specimens of old truths, new 
members of old classes, but not upon intrinsically new objects 
of knowledge. As far as empiricism is concerned the case of 
Locke is Instructive. His Essay on Human Understanding is 
one continued effort to test all reflective beliefs and ideas what- 
ever by reduction to original * Simple ideas " that are infallibly 
known in isolation from any inferential undertaking a point 
in which many of the new realisms are still Lockeian. 

If we look at the course of science, we find a very different 
story told. Important conclusions of science are those which 
distinctly refuse to be identified with anything previously 


known. Instead of having to be proved by being assimilated to 
the latter, they rather occasion revision of what men thought 
.they previously knew. The recent crisis in physical science is 
a case in point. The experimental discovery that the velocity of 
light remains the same when measured either with or against 
the direction of the earth's movement was totally unaccount- 
able on the basis of previous knowing. But scientific men 
accepted the consequences of their experimental operations 
as constituting the known object, rather than feeling under 
obligation to "prove" them by identification with what was 
said to be antecedently known. Inferential inquiry in scientific 
procedure is an adventure in which conclusions confound 
expectation and upset what has been accepted as facts. It takes 
time for these new facts to be assimilated : to become familiar. 
Assimilation of the new to the familiar is doubtless a pre- 
condition for our finding ourselves at home in the new and 
being able to handle it freely. But the older theories virtually 
mad$ this personal and psychological phase of assimilation of 
new and old into a test of knowledge itself. 

The third point, that cognition is recognition, only presents 
the same difficulty in another way. It presents it in a light 
which brings out a distinctive point. The theory that knowledge 
due to reflection consists in identifying something with what 
is already known or possessed confuses the psychological trait 
of familiarity, the quality of finding ourselves at ease in a 
situation, with knowledge. The conception originated when 
experimental knowing occurred only occasionally and as if 
by accident; when discoveries were regarded as gifts of the 
gods or as special inspirations: when men were governed by 
custom and were uneasy in the presence of change and afraid 
of the unknown. It was rationalized into a theory when the 
Greeks succeeded in identifying natural phenomena with 
rational ideas and were delighted with the identification because 
their aesthetic interest made them at home in a world of 
such harmony and order as that identification involved. They 



called the result science, although in fact it fastened wrong 
beliefs about nature upon Europe for wellnigh two thousand 

Newtonian science, as we have seen in another connection, 
in effect only substituted one set of identifying objects, the 
mathematical, for those previously employed. It set up per- 
manent substances, the particles or atoms having inherent 
mathematical properties, as ultimate realities, and alleged that 
reflective thought yields knowledge when it translates pheno- 
mena into these properties. Thus it retained unimpaired the 
theory that knowing signifies a process of identification. It 
required over two centuries for the experimental method to 
reach a point where men were forced to realize that progress 
in science depends upon choice of operations performed and 
not upon the properties of objects which were alleged to be 
so antecedently certain and fixed that all detailed phenomena 
might be reduced to them. This conception of knowledge still 
dominates thinking in social and moral matters. When it is 
realized that in these fields as in the physical, we know what 
we intentionally construct, that everything depends upon 
determination of methods of operation and upon observation 
of the consequences which test them, the progress of knowledge 
in these affairs may also become secure and constant. 

What has been said does not imply that previous knowledge 
is not of immense importance in obtaining new knowledge. 
What is denied is that this previous knowledge need be 
immediate or intuitive, and that it provides the measure and 
Standard of conclusions obtained by inferential operations. 
Inferential inquiry is continuous; one phase passes into the 
next, which uses, tests and expands conclusions already obtained . 
More particularly, the conclusions of prior knowledge are the 
instruments of new inquiries, not the norm which determines 
their validity. Objects of previous knowledge supply working 
hypotheses for new situations; they are the source of sug- 
gestion of new operations; they direct inquiry. But they do 


not enter into reflective knowing by way of providing its 
premises in a logical sense. The tradition of classic logic 
persists in leading philosophers to call premises what in effect 
are regulative and instrumental points of view for conducting 
new observations. 

We are constantly referring to what is already known to 
get our bearings in any new situation. Unless there is some 
reason to doubt whether presumptive knowledge is really 
knowledge, we take it as a net product. It would be a waste 
of time and energy to repeat the operations in virtue of which 
the object is a known object unless there were ground for 
suspecting its validity. Every adult, irrespective of whether he 
is a man of science or not, carries in his head a large store 
of things known in virtue of earlier operations. When a new 
problem comes up, one habitually refers to what is already 
known to get a start in dealing with it. Such objects, until we 
have occasion to doubt them, are settled, assured; the given 
situation is dubious, but they are secure. Hence we take them 
for granted, we take them as a matter of course. Then if we 
question them, we tend to fall back upon something else 
already known. What is too easily overlooked (especially in 
quest for certainty by attachment to the fixed) is that the 
objects we thus fall back upon are themselves known in virtue 
of previous operations of inferential inquiry and test, and 
that their "immediacy" as objects of reference marks an 
assured product of reflection. It is also overlooked that they 
are referred to as instruments, rather than as fixed in and of 
themselves. The case is similar to the use of tools previously 
manufactured when we are dealing with the conditions of a 
new situation ; only when they prove defective does invention 
of new tools demand recurrence to the operations by which 
they were originally constructed. 

This act of taking and using objects already known is 
practically justified; it is like eating a fruit without asking 
how it was grown. But many theories of knowledge take this 


retrospective use of things known in virtue of earlier operations 
as typical of the nature of knowledge itself. Being reminded 
of something we already know is taken as the pattern of all 
knowing. When the thing of which we are now retrospectively 
aware was in process of being known, it was prospective and 
eventual to inquiry, not something already "given". And it 
has cognitive force in a new inquiry whose objective and 
ultimate object is now prospective. Taking what is already 
known or pointing to it is no more a case of knowledge than 
taking a chisel out of a tool-box is the making of the tool. 
Because some theories of knowledge have taken the operations 
that yield the known object to be merely mental or psychical 
instead of overt redispositions of antecedent subject-matter 
(and thus have terminated in some form of "idealism") is no 
reason for denying the mediated character of all known 

Thus we are led by another road to the conclusion that the 
basic error of traditional theories of knowledge resides in the 
isolation and fixation of some phase of the whole process of 
inquiry in resolving problematic situations. Sometimes sense- 
data are so taken; sometimes, conceptions; sometimes, objects 
previously known. An episode in a series of operational acts 
is fastened upon, and then in its isolation and consequent 
fragmentary character is made the foundation of the theory 
of knowing in its entirety. 

Reflective knowing certainly involves identification. But 
identity itself has to be defined operationally. There are as 
many meanings of identity and identification as there are 
types of operation by which they are determined. There is 
identification of an object as a member of a class, of a plant 
as belonging to a certain species : taxonomic identity. The classic 
theory of definition took this to be the sole valid type of logical 
definition. There are identifications that are historic, that are 
concerned with individuals as such. They define the identity 
of an individual throughout a series of successive temporal 


changes, while the other type is purely static. This kind of 
identity is secured by operations that introduce temporal 
continuity into what is otherwise discrete: it yields genetic 
and generative definitions. For the identity of an individual 
is constituted by continued absorption and incorporation of 
materials previously external as in the growth of a person, 
a nation or a social movement. It demands operations that 
rcdispose and organize what antecedently exists. Identifications 
effected by inferential operations are of this type. They are 
not reductions of the new object or situations to terms of 
something already known. Traditional theories treat them as 
if they were of the static and subsumptive type. 

Hence these theories have no way of accounting for the 
discrimination and differentiation, the novel elements, involved 
in the conclusions of inferential knowing. They must be viewed 
as mere surds, cognitively speaking. Identifications through 
processes of temporal growth are, on the contrary, differentia- 
tions; new and previously external material is incorporated; 
otherwise there is no growth, no development. All reflective 
inquiry starts from a problematic situation, and no such 
situation can be settled in its own terms. It evolves into a 
resolved situation only by means of introduction of material 
not found in the situation itself. Imaginative survey, comparison 
with things already known, is the first step. This does not 
eventuate in complete knowledge, however, until some overt 
experimental act takes place by means of which an existential 
incorporation and organization is brought about. Merely 
"mental" revisions remain in the status of thought as distinct 
from knowledge. Identification through operations that re- 
arrange what is antecedently given is a process of additive 
discrimination; it alone is synthetic in the true sense of that 
word, involving likeness-and-difference. 

Objective idealisms have insisted upon the conjoint presence 
of identity and difference in objects of knowledge, as in the 
doctrine of the "concrete universal' \ But they have ignored 


the phase of temporal reconstruction with its necessity for 
overt existential interaction. 

A further implication of the experimental determination 
of the known object concerns its office in the verification of 
hypotheses. It is often supposed that the value of experiment 
lies merely in the fact that it confirms, refutes or modifies a 
hypothesis. From the standpoint of the personal interest of 
the inquirer such an interpretation often holds good. He is 
interested in a theory, and views the eventually disclosed 
state of facts solely in its bearing upon the theory he is 
entertaining. To him, at the time, the cognitive value of the 
results of experimental operation lies in the test they afford 
of the claims of his hypothesis. Even so, however, verification, 
or the opposite, is attained only because experimentation effects 
a transition of a problematical situation into a resolved one. 
In this development new individual objects with new features 
are brought to light. As far as the objective course of know- 
ledge is concerned, as distinct from the personal interest of the 
investigator, this result is the important one; in comparison 
with it the verification of a hypothesis is secondary and 
incidental. The institution of a new object of experience is 
the essential fact. It would not occur to any one surveying 
the body of scientific knowledge as a whole to think that its 
value lay in the corroboration it provides for a number of 
hypotheses. Taken in the large, the significance of the body 
of subject-matter as a whole clearly resides in the fact that 
it marks an added depth, range and fullness of meaning 
conferred upon objects of ordinary experience. 

This consequence is the only intelligible end that can be 
assigned to processes of reflective inquiry. It marks again 
that during their course hypotheses have gained increased 
solidity. But the eventual object of activity with tools is not 
to perfect tools, but is found in what tools accomplish, the 
products they turn out. When a person working on the basis 
of a certain idea succeeds in making an invention, his idea 


is verified. But verification was not the purpose of making 
the invention, nor does it constitute its value when made. 
The same may be said of physicians working upon a certain 
hypothesis in cure of a disease. Only an ultra-specialist would 
regard a successful outcome simply as verification of a theory. 
Since a hypothesis is itself instrumental to inquiry, its verifi- 
cation cannot constitute the whole significance of inquiry. 

Hypotheses which have later been rejected have often proved 
serviceable in discovery of new facts, and thus advanced 
knowledge. A poor tool is often better than none at all. It has 
even been doubted whether any hypothesis ever entertained 
has not turned out later to have been erroneous in important 
respects. It is still questioned whether many of the objects 
of the most valuable and indispensable hypotheses in present 
use have actual existence ; the existential status of the electron 
is still, for example, a matter of controversy. In many cases, 
as in the older theory of the nature of atoms, it is now clear that 
their worth was independent of the existential status imputed 
to their subject-matter; that indeed this imputation was irre- 
levant and as far as it went injurious. As we have seen, progress 
beyond the Newtonian scheme was made possible when the 
ascription of antecedently existing inherent properties was 
dropped out, and concepts were regarded as designations of 
operations to be performed. 

These considerations have a practical importance with respect 
to the attitude of disdain often affected usually in behalf of 
preservation of some dogma toward the course of science. 
It is pointed out that scientific men are constantly engaged 
in furbishing and refurbishing their theories, rejecting those 
to which they have been devoted, and putting new ones in 
their place only in time to reject these also. Then it is demanded 
why we should put our trust in science self-confessed to be 
unstable rather than in some old dogma which men have 
contir"\ed to believe without change. It is overlooked that the 
instability affects the intellectual apparatus which is employed, 


conceptions which are frankly hypothetical. What remains and 
is not discarded but is added to is the body of concrete know- 
ledge and of definite controls constructed by conceptions no 
longer tenable. No one would dream of reflecting adversely 
upon the evolution of mechanical inventions because the 
sickle had been discarded for the mowing-machine, and the 
mechanized tractor substituted for the horse-drawn mower. We 
are obviously confronted with betterment of the instrumen- 
talities that are employed to secure consequences. 

The adverse criticism of science just mentioned attaches 
only to some of the philosophic interpretations which have 
been advanced. If scientific conceptions were valid in the degree 
in which they are revelations of antecedent properties of real 
Being and existence (as the Newtonian scheme took them to 
be), there would be something disturbing in their continual 
revamping. The claim of any one of them to be valid would 
suffer discredit. Not so, if they are instrumentalities which 
direct operations of experimental observations, and if the 
knowledge-property resides in conclusions. Fruits remain and 
these fruits are the abiding advance of knowledge. Thus 
the breaking down of the traditional barrier between theory, 
supposed to be concerned with prior reality, and practice, 
concerned with production of consequences, protects the actual 
results of theory from cavil. 

At the same time, it does away once for all with the grounds 
upon which wholesale sceptical and agnostic philosophies have 
rested. As long as theories of knowledge are framed in terms 
of organs assigned to mind or consciousness, whether sense 
or reason or any combination of the two, organs occupied, it is 
alleged, in reproducing or grasping antecedent reality, there 
will continue to exist such generalized sceptical philosophies. 
Phenomenalism, which holds that impressions and ideas come 
between the knower and things to be known, will have plenty 
of support as long as sensations and ideas are supposed to be 
valid only when they report to mind something prior to them. 


Phenomenalism may be objected to on the ground that data, 
ideas, essences, are means of knowing, not its objects. But as 
long as they are regarded as merely mental means rather than 
as means which through overt acts effect actual redisposition 
of antecedent things, the retort will have the character of an 
arbitrary tour de force \ it will be a pious doctrine rather than 
a conclusion empirically verified. 

It is always in place to be doubtful or sceptical about par- 
ticular items of supposed knowledge when evidence to the 
contrary presents itself. There is no knowledge self-guaranteed 
to be infallible, since all knowledge is the product of special 
acts of inquiry. Agnosticism as confession of ignorance about 
special matters, in the absence of adequate evidence, is not 
only in place under such circumstances but is an act of 
intellectual honesty. But such scepticism and agnosticism are 
particular and depend upon special conditions; they are not 
wholesale ; they do not issue from a generalized impeachment 
of the adequacy of the organs of knowing to perform their 
office. Theories which assume that the knowing subject, that 
mind or consciousness, has an inherent capacity to disclose 
reality, a capacity operating apart from any overt interactions 
of the organism with surrounding conditions, are invitations 
to general philosophical doubt. 

The case stands radically otherwise when it is seen that 
"mental" states and acts are organs of knowing things not 
directly but through the overt actions which they evoke and 
direct. For, the consequences of these acts constitute the object 
said to be known; and these consequences are public and 
open. Doubt and scepticism attach only to the adequacy of 
the operations used in achieving the issue which transforms 
a problematic situation into a settled or resolved one. Instead 
of being impotent and paralysing, they are opportunities for 
bettering concrete methods of inquiry. 

Once more, we recur to the problem raised concerning the 
possibility of carrying over the essential elements of the pattern 


of experimental knowing into the experience of man in its 
everyday traits. A statement that judgments about regulative 
ends and values, the creeds that are to govern conduct in its 
important interests, are upon the whole matters of tradition, 
dogma and imposition from alleged authorities, hardly requires 
argument in its support. It is equally patent that scepticism 
is rife as to the value of purposes and policies of life thus 
supplied ; the scepticism often extends to complete agnosticism 
as to the possibility of any regulative ends and standards 
whatever. The course of human experience in such matters 
is supposed to be inherently chaotic. Even more precious than 
the special conclusions of scientific inquiry is its proof that 
intelligent experimental inquiry is possible which, when it is 
used, will develop expansion of ideas and regulation of securely 
tested consequences. It is, once more, a hypothesis rather than 
a settled fact that extension and transfer of experimental 
method is generally possible. But like other hypotheses it is 
to be tried in action, and the future history of mankind is 
at stake in the trial. 


EVERY STUDENT OF PHILOSOPHY is aware of the number of 
seeming impasses into which the theory of knowledge has been 
led. There are four general types of subject-matter whose 
rival claims to be the objects of true knowledge have to be 
either disposed of or in some way accommodated to one 
another. At one pole are immediate sense-data which are said 
to be the immediate and accordingly most certain objects in 
knowledge of existence: the original material from which 
knowledge of nature must set out. At the other pole are 
mathematical and logical objects. Somewhere between them 
lie the objects of physical science, the products of an elaborate 
technique of reflective inquiry. Then there are the objects of 
everyday experience, the concrete things of the world in which 
we live and which, from the standpoint of our practical affairs, 
our enjoyments and sufferings, form the world we live in. 
To common sense these are the most important if not the 
most real of all objects of knowing. Recent philosophy has 
been increasingly occupied with the problems which grow out 
of the titles of these various kinds of objects to jurisdiction 
over the field of knowledge. From some point of view, the 
pretensions of each seem to be supreme. 

The problem, however, is far from being a purely technical 
one. There has been repeated occasion to note that the claim 
of physical objects, the objects in which the physical sciences 
terminate, to constitute the real nature of the world, places the 
objects of value with which our affections and choices are 
concerned at an invidious disadvantage. The mathematician 
often doubts the claims of physics to be a science in the full 
sense of the word ; the psychologist may quarrel with both ; 
and the devotees of physical inquiry are suspicious of the 
claims of those who deal with human affairs, historians and 


students of social life. The biological subjects which stand 
between and form a connecting link are often refused the title 
of science if they adopt principles and categories different 
from those of strict physics. The net practical effect is the 
creation of the belief that science exists only in the things 
which are most remote from any significant human concern, so 
that as we approach social and moral questions and interests 
we must either surrender hope of the guidance of genuine 
knowledge or else purchase a scientific title and authority at 
the expense of all that is distinctly human. 

Those who have followed the previous discussions will not 
be surprised to hear that, from the standpoint of experimental 
knowing, all of the rivalries and connected problems grow 
from a single root. They spring from the assumption that the 
true and valid object of knowledge is that which has being 
prior to and independent of the operations of knowing. They 
spring from the doctrine that knowledge is a grasp or behold- 
ing of reality without anything being done to modify its 
antecedent state the doctrine which is the source of the 
separation of knowledge from practical activity. If we see that 
knowing is not the act of an outside spectator but of a partici- 
pator inside the natural and social scene, then the true object 
of knowledge resides in the consequences of directed action. 
When we take this point of view, if only by way of a hypo- 
thesis, the perplexities and difficulties of which we have 
been speaking vanish. For on this basis there will be as many 
kinds of known objects as there are kinds of effectively con- 
ducted operations of inquiry which result in the consequences 

The result of one operation will be as good and true an 
object of knowledge as is any other, provided it is good at all : 
provided, that is, it satisfies the conditions which induced 
the inquiry. For if consequences are the object of know- 
ing, then an archetypal antecedent reality is not a model to 
which the conclusions of inquiry must conform. One might 


even go as far as to say that there are as many kinds of 
valid knowledge as there are conclusions wherein distinctive 
operations have been employed to solve the problems set by 
antecedently experienced situations. For operations dealing 
with different problems never exactly repeat one another and 
do not determine exactly the same consequences. However, as 
far as logical theory is concerned, operations fall into certain 
kinds or types. It is the bearing of our principle upon the 
validity of these kinds that we are directly concerned with. 

It is only repeating what has been said to assert that no 
problem can be solved without a determination of the data 
which define and locate it and which furnish clues or evidence. 
In so far, when we secure dependable sense-data, we know 
truly. Again, the systematic progress of inquiry in dealing 
with physical problems requires that we determine those metric 
properties by means of which correlations of changes are 
instituted so as to make predictions possible. These form the 
objects of physical science, and if our operations are adequate 
they are truly known. We develop operations, through symbols, 
which connect possible operations with one another; their 
outcome gives the formal objects of mathematics and logic. 
As consequences of suitable operations these too are truly 
known. Finally, when these operations, or some combination 
of them, are used to solve the problems which arise in con- 
nection with the things of ordinary perceived and enjoyed 
objects, the latter, as far as they are consequences of these 
operations, are themselves truly known. We know whenever 
we do know; that is, whenever our inquiry leads to conclusions 
which settle the problem out of which it grew. This truism 
is the end of the whole matter upon the condition that we 
frame our theory of knowledge in accord with the pattern set 
by experimental methods. 

The conclusions, however, are not truistic; they certainly 
are not trivial. The more complex the conditions with which 
operations are concerned, the fuller and richer are their conse- 


quences. Consequently, the more significant, although not the 
truer, is the resulting knowledge. The advantage of physical 
knowledge depends upon the fact that it deals with fewer 
conditions, those of a narrower and more isolated range, by 
means of operations that are more precise and more technical. 
There is no difference in principle between knowledge of them 
and knowledge of the most complex human affairs, but there 
is a decided practical difference. To be an object of specifically 
physical knowledge is the same thing as being an object of 
operations that discriminate definitely fundamental relations 
of the experienced world from others, and that deal with them 
in their discriminated character. The gain is great. But the 
objects thus known lay no claim to be final. When used 
as factors for inquiring into phenomena of life and society 
they become instrumental; they cease to be inclusive, and 
become part of a method for understanding more complex 

From this point of view, the objects of our common-sense 
world (by which is signified that in which we live, with our 
loves and hates, our defeats and achievements, our choices, 
strivings and enjoyments) have a double status. When they 
precede operations of competent directed inquiry, they are not 
matters of knowledge; they are experienced just as they 
happen to occur. They thus set problems for inquiry, problems 
of varied scope. But they are of such a nature that things of 
the most limited range, the purely physical, are the first to be 
successfully dealt with. But in the degree in which fuller and 
more complex social and moral affairs which of course in- 
clude physical and biological conditions and relations within 
themselves are transformed by becoming consequences of 
operations made possible by the limited forms of knowing, 
they also are objects of knowledge. While they are not more 
real, they are richer and more significant objects than are those 
of any other type of knowledge. 

The special results of science are alwavs finding their wav 


back into the natural and social environment of daily life and 
modifying it. This fact does not of itself cause the latter to 
be known objects. A typical example is the effect of physical 
science upon a worker in a factory; he may merely become 
an attachment to a machine for a number of hours a day. 
Physical science has had its effect in changing social conditions. 
But there has been no correspondingly significant increase of 
intelligent understanding. The application of physical know- 
ledge has taken place in a technical way for the sake of limited 
consequences. But when the operations in which physical 
science is used are such as to transform distinctively human 
values in behalf of a human interest, those who participate in 
these consequences have a knowledge of the things of ordinary 
perception, use and enjoyment as genuine and fuller and 
deeper than that of the scientist in his laboratory. Were we to 
define science not in the usual technical way, but as a know- 
ledge that accrues when methods are employed which deal 
competently with problems that present themselves, the 
physician, engineer, artist, craftsman, lay claim to scientific 

These statements go contrary to the philosophic tradition. 
They do so for just one reason. They rest upon the idea that 
known objects exist as the consequences of directed operations, 
not because of conformity of thought or observation with 
something antecedent. We may, for reasons which I hope will 
appear later, give the name intelligence to these directed 
operations. Using this term, we may say that the worth of 
any object that lays claim to being an object of knowledge is 
dependent upon the intelligence employed in reaching it. In 
saying this, we must bear in mind that intelligence means 
operations actually performed in the modification of condi- 
tions, including all the guidance that is given by means of 
ideas, both direct and symbolic. 

The statement may sound strange. But it is only a way 
of saying that the value of any cognitive conclusion depends 


upon the method by which it is reached, so that the perfecting 
of method, the perfecting of intelligence, is the thing of 
supreme value. If we judge the work of a scientific inquirer by 
what he does and not by his speech when he talks about his 
work (when he is likely to talk in terms of traditional notions 
that have become habitual) we shall have little difficulty, I 
think, in accepting the idea that he determines the cognitive 
claims of anything presented to him on the basis of the method 
by which it is reached. The import of this doctrine is simple. 
It becomes complicated, however, the moment we contrast it 
with the doctrines which have dominated thought. For these 
all rest on the notion that a reality in Being independently 
of the operations of inquiry is the standard and measure of 
anything said to be known. Viewed in this connection, the 
conception just advanced involves hardly less than a revolu- 
tionary transformation of many of our most cherished con- 
victions. The essential difference is that between a mind which 
beholds or grasps objects from outside the world of things, 
physical and social, and one which is a participant, interacting 
with other things and knowing them provided the interaction 
is regulated in a definable way. 

In discussion up to this point we have depended upon the 
general pattern of experimental knowing. It is asserted that 
when we frame our theory of knowledge and the known object 
after this pattern, the conclusion is inevitable. But the point 
is of such importance that we may gratefully acknowledge the 
support given the conclusion by one of the definite conclusions 
reached in recent physical science. For this one result is of a 
crucially decisive nature. It is known technically as Heisen- 
berg's principle of indeterminancy. The basic philosophy of 
the Newtonian system of the universe is closely connected 
with what is termed the principle of canonic conjugates. The 
fundamental principle of the mechanical philosophy of nature 
is that it is possible to determine exactly (in principle if not 
in actual practice) both the position and the velocitv of anv 


body. Knowing this for each particle which enters into any 
change, as a motion, it is possible to calculate mathematically, 
that is exactly, just what will happen. The laws or physical 
equations that express the relations of the particles and bodies 
under different conditions are then assumed to be a "govern- 
ing" framework of nature to which all particular phenomena 
conform. Knowing volumes and momenta in a particular case 
we can by the aid of fixed laws predict the subsequent course 
of events. 

The philosophy in question assumed that these positions 
and velocities are there in nature independent of our knowing, 
of our experiments and observations, and that we have scien- 
tific knowledge in the degree in which we ascertain them 
exactly. The future and the past belong to the same com- 
pletely determinate and fixed scheme. Observations, when 
correctly conducted, merely register this fixed state of changes 
according to laws of objects whose essential properties are 
fixed. The implications of the positions are expressed in 
Laplace's well-known saying that were there a knowledge (in 
mechanical terms) of the state of the universe at any one time 
its whole future could be predicted or deduced. It is this 
philosophy which Heisenberg's principle has upset, a fact 
implied in calling it a principle of indeterminancy. 

It is true that critics had attacked the Newtonian scheme 
on the basis of a logical flaw in it. It first postulates that the 
position and velocity of any particle can be determined in 
isolation from all others. Then it postulates that there is a 
complete and continuous interaction of all these particles with 
one another. Logically, the two postulates nullify each other. 
But as long as the principles involved gave satisfactory results 
this objection was brushed aside or ignored. Heisenberg's prin- 
ciple compels a recognition of the fact that interaction prevents 
an accurate measurement of velocity and position for any body, 
the demonstration centring about the role of the interaction of 
the observer in determining what actually happens. 



The scientific data and the mathematical reasonings which 
led him to his conclusion are technical. But fortunately they 
do not concern us. The logic of the matter is not complicated. 
He showed that if we fix, metrically, velocity, then there is a 
range of indeterminateness in the assignment of position, and 
vice versa. When one is fixed, the other is defined only within 
a specified limit of probability. The element of indeterminate- 
ness is not connected with defect in the method of observation, 
but is intrinsic. The particle observed does not have fixed 
position or velocity, for it is changing all the time because 
of interaction: specifically, in this case, interaction with the 
act of observing, or more strictly, with the conditions under 
which an observation is possible; for it is not the "mental" 
phase of observation which makes the difference. Since either 
position or velocity may be fixed at choice, leaving the element 
of indeterminancy on the other side, both of them are shown 
to be conceptual in nature. That is, they belong to our intellec- 
tual apparatus for dealing with antecedent existence, not to 
fixed properties of that existence. An isolation of a particle 
for measurement is essentially a device for regulation of sub- 
sequent perceptual experience. 

Technically, the principle of Heisenberg is connected with 
recent determinations regarding observation of phenomena of 
light. The principle as far as the role of the conditions of 
observation is concerned is simple. We should all, I suppose, 
recognize that when we perceive an object by means of touch, 
the contact introduces a slight modification in the thing 
touched. Although in dealing with large bodies this change 
would be insignificant, it would be considerable if we touched 
a minute body and one moving at high speed. It might be 
thought that we could calculate the displacement thus effected, 
and by making allowances for it determine exactly the position 
and momentum of the thing touched. But this result would be 
theoretical, and would have to be confirmed by another obser- 
vation. The effect of the last observation cannot be eliminated. 


Failure to generalize this conclusion was due presumably to 
two facts. Until recently physics dealt mainly with bodies of 
relatively large volume and relatively low velocity. Experiences 
with these bodies were carried over to minute particles of any 
velocity; these were treated as mathematical points located at 
fixed, unchanging instants of time. The second cause is that 
vision does not involve interaction with the thing seen as 
obviously as does touch. 

But the situation changed when it came to dealing with 
minute bodies moving at high speed. Also, it became clear 
that a continuous field or even flow of light cannot be ob- 
served and measured. Light can be observed only as an indi- 
vidual object, a drop, pellet or bullet. The presence of at 
least one such bullet is required to make, say, an electron 
visible, and its action displaces to some extent the object 
observed ; the displacement or jog, being involved in the ob- 
servation, cannot be measured by it. As Bridgman says: "A 
cat may look at a king, but at least one bullet of light must 
pass if any light at all passes, and the king cannot be observed 
without the exertion of that minimum amount of mechanical 
repulsion which corresponds to the single bullet." 1 

To a layman the full import of the discovery may not 
seem at first sight very great. In the subject-matter of scientific 
thought it calls for only slight changes of formulation, in- 
significant for all macroscopic bodies. The change for the 
underlying philosophy and logic of science is, however, very 
great. In relation to the metaphysics of the Newtonian system 
it is hardly less than revolutionary. What is known is seen to 
be a product in which the act of observation plays a necessary 
role. Knowing is seen to be a participant in what is finally 
known. Moreover, the metaphysics of existence as something 
fixed and therefore capable of literally exact mathematical 
description and prediction is undermined. Knowing is, for 

1 In the March 1929 number of Harper's Magazine, in an article 
entitled "The New Vision of Science". 


philosophical theory, a case of specially directed activity 
instead of something isolated from practice. The quest for 
certainty by means of exact possession in mind of immutable 
reality is exchanged for search for security by means of active 
control of the changing course of events. Intelligence in opera- 
tion, another name for method, becomes the thing most worth 

The principle of indetcrminancy thus presents itself as the 
final step in the dislodgment of the old spectator theory of 
knowledge. It marks the acknowledgment, within scientific 
procedure itself, of the fact that knowing is one kind of inter- 
action which goes on within the world. Knowing marks the 
conversion of undirected changes into changes directed toward 
an intended conclusion. There are left for philosophy but two 
alternatives. Either knowledge defeats its own purpose ; or the 
objective of knowing is the consequences of operations pur- 
posely undertaken, provided they fulfil the conditions for the 
sake of which they are carried on. If we persist in the tradi- 
tional conception, according to which the thing to be known is 
something which exists prior to and wholly apart from the act 
of knowing, then discovery of the fact that the act of observa- 
tion, necessary in existential knowing, modifies that pre- 
existent something, is proof that the act of knowing gets in its 
own way, frustrating its own intent. If knowing is a form of 
doing and is to be judged like other modes by its eventual 
issue, this tragic conclusion is not forced upon us. Funda- 
mentally, the issue is raised whether philosophy is willing to 
surrender a theory of mind and its organs of knowing which 
originated when the practice of knowing was in its infancy. 

One important result of acknowledgment of the philosophic 
modification involved in the principle of indeterminancy is a 
definite change in our conception of natural laws. The indi- 
vidually observed case becomes the measure of knowledge. 
Laws are intellectual instrumentalities by which that individual 
object is instituted and its meaning determined. This change 


involves a reversal of the theory which has dominated thought 
since the Newtonian system obtained full sway. According to 
the latter, the aim of science is to ascertain laws; individual 
cases are known only as they are reduced to instances of laws. 
For, as we saw earlier, the Newtonian philosophy allowed 
itself to become entangled in the Greek metaphysics, according 
to which the immutable is the truly real and our thought is 
adequate in the degree in which it approximates a grasp of 
what is antecedently fixed in existence. 

In content, or subject-matter, Newton's philosophy effected 
a revolutionary change. The unchanging reality had been 
thought to consist of forms and species. According to New- 
tonian science, it consists of fixed relations, temporal and 
spatial, designated by exact enumeration of changes between 
fixed ultimate substances, the masses of atoms. The discovery 
that mass varies with velocity was the beginning of the end. 
It deprived physical knowledge of its supposedly ultimate 
permanent coefficient, one having nothing to do with con- 
figuration or motion, and one in terms of which all interactions 
were to be exactly described. All "laws" were statements of 
these ultimate and rigid uniformities of being. While perhaps 
there was felt to be something metaphorical in speaking of 
laws as if they "governed" changes and of the latter as if they 
"obeyed" laws, there was nothing figurative in the notion that 
laws stated the ultimate unchanging properties of natural 
existence, and that all individual cases, those observed, were 
only specimen instances of the antecedent properties of the real 
world formulated in laws. The principle of indeterminancy 
brings to fruition the scientific transformation initiated in the 
discovery that the supposition of a permanent coefficient of 
mass is illusory a survival, when judged in historical terms, 
of the old notion that something immutable is the true object 
of knowledge. 

In technical statement, laws on the new basis are formulae 
for the prediction of the probability of an observable occur- 


rence. They are designations of relations sufficiently stable to 
allow of the occurrence of forecasts of individualized situa- 
tions for every observed phenomenon is individual within 
limits of specified probability, not a probability of error, but of 
probability of actual occurrence. Laws are inherently concep- 
tual in character, as is shown in the fact that either position or 
velocity may be fixed at will. To call them conceptual is not to 
say that they are merely "mental" and arbitrary. It is to say 
they they are relations which are thought not observed. The 
subject-matter of the conceptions which constitute laws is not 
arbitrary, for it is determined by the interactions of what 
exists. But determination of them is very different from that 
denoted by conformity to fixed properties of unchanging 
substances. Any instrument which is to operate effectively in 
existence must take account of what exists, from a fountain- 
pen to a self-binding reaper, a locomotive or an aeroplane. 
But "taking account of", paying heed to, is something quite 
different from literal conformity to what is already in being. It 
is an adaptation of what previously existed to accomplishment 
of a purpose. 

The eventual purpose in knowledge is observation of a new 
phenomenon, an object actually experienced by way of per- 
ception. Thus the supposed immutable law supposed to govern 
phenomena becomes a way of transacting business effectively 
with concrete existences, a mode of regulation of our relations 
with them. There is no difference in principle between their use 
in "pure" science and in an art. We may recur to the case of 
a physician to which reference was made. The physician in 
diagnosing a case of disease deals with something indi- 
vidualized. He draws upon a store of general principles of 
physiology, etc., already at command. Without this store of 
conceptual material he is helpless. But he does not attempt to 
reduce the case to an exact specimen of certain laws of physio- 
logy and pathology, or do away with its unique individuality. 
Rather he uses general statements as aids to direct his obser- 


vation of the particular case, so as to discover what it is like. 
They function as intellectual tools or instrumentalities. 

The recognition that laws are means of calculating the 
probability of observation of an event signifies that in basic 
logic there is no difference in the two kinds of cases. The full 
and eventual reality of knowledge is carried in the individual 
case, not in general laws isolated from use in giving an indi- 
vidual case its meaning. Thus the empirical or observational 
theory of knowledge comes to its own, although in quite a 
different way from that imagined by traditional empiricism. 

It is an old remark that human progress is a zigzag affair. 
The idea of a universal reign of law, based on properties im- 
mutably inhering in things and of such a nature as to be capable 
of exact mathematical statement, was a sublime idea. It dis- 
placed once for all the notion of a world in which the un- 
accountable and the mysterious have the first and last word, 
a world in which they constantly insert themselves. It estab- 
lished the ideal of regularity and uniformity in place of the 
casual and sporadic. It gave men inspiration and guidance in 
seeking for uniformities and constancies where only irregular 
diversity was experienced. The ideal extended itself from the 
inanimate world to the animate and then to social affairs. It 
became, it may fairly be said, the great article of faith in the 
creed of scientific men. From this point of view, the principle 
of indeterminancy seems like an intellectual catastrophe. In 
compelling surrender of the doctrine of exact and immutable 
laws describing the fixed antecedent properties of things, it 
seems to involve abandonment of the idea that the world is 
fundamentally intelligible. A universe in which fixed laws do 
not make possible exact predictions seems from the older 
standpoint to be a world in which disorder reigns. 

The feeling is psychologically natural. But it arises from 
the hold which intellectual habits have over us. The traditional 
conception displaced in fact lingers in imagination as a picture 
of what the world ought to be ; we are uneasy because the fact 


turns out not to be in accord with the picture in our minds. 
As a matter of fact, the change, viewed in a perspective of 
distance, is nothing like so upsetting. All the facts that were 
ever known are still known, and known with greater accuracy 
than before. The older doctrine was in effect an offshoot not 
of science but of a metaphysical doctrine which taught that 
the immutable is the truly real, and of a theory of knowledge 
which held that rational conceptions rather than observations 
are the vehicle of knowledge. Newton foisted a fundamental 
"rationalism" upon the scientific world all the more effectually 
because he did it in the name of empirical observation. 

Moreover, like all generalizations which go beyond the 
range of possible as well as of actual experience, a price was 
paid for the sublime and inspiring ideal of a reign of uni- 
versal and exact law: the sacrifice of the individual to the 
general, of the concrete to the relational. Spinoza's magnifi- 
cently sweeping dictum that "the order and connection of ideas 
is the order and connection of things" was in effect, although 
not avowedly as it was with Spinoza, the current measure of 
the intelligibility of nature. And a universe whose essential 
characteristic is fixed order and connection has no place for 
unique and individual existences, no place for novelty and 
genuine change and growth. It is, in the words of William 
James, a block universe. The fact that in detailed content it 
is a thoroughly mechanistic world is, one may say, a mere 
incident attending the fact that it is a fixed and closed world. 

Probably everyone has heard of the child who expressed 
surprise at the fact that rivers or bodies of water are always 
located conveniently near great cities. Suppose every one had 
had engrained in his mind the notion that cities, like rivers, 
are works of nature. Suppose it was then suddenly ascertained 
that cities were man made and were located near bodies of 
water in order that the activities of men in industry and com- 
merce might be better carried on and human purposes and 
needs be better served. We can imagine that the discovery 


would bring with it a shock. It would be upsetting because 
it would seem unnatural; for the ordinary measure of the 
natural is psychological ; it is what we have become accustomed 
to. But in time the new idea in becoming familiar would also 
become "natural". If men had always previously conceived of 
the connection between cities and rivers as one which was in- 
trinsic and fixed by nature, instead of being a product of human 
art, it is moreover probable that in time a liberation would be 
experienced by discovery that the contrary was the case. Men 
would be led to take fuller advantage of the facilities afforded 
by natural conditions. These would be used in new and more 
diversified ways when it was realized that cities were near 
them because of and for the sake of the uses they provide. 

The analogy suggested seems to me close. From the stand- 
point of traditional notions, it appears that nature, intrinsically, 
is irrational. But the quality of irrationality is imputed only 
because of conflict with a prior definition of rationality. 
Abandon completely the notion that nature ought to conform 
to a certain definition, and nature intrinsically is neither 
rational nor irrational. Apart from the use made of it in know- 
ing, it exists in a dimension irrelevant to either attribution, 
just as rivers inherently are neither located near cities nor are 
opposed to such location. Nature is intelligible and under- 
standflife. There are operations by means of which it becomes 
an object of knowledge, and is turned to human purposes, just 
as rivers provide conditions which may be utilized to promote 
human activities and to satisfy human need. 

Moreover, just as commerce, carried on by natural bodies 
of water, signifies interactions within nature, by which changes 
are effected in natural conditions the building of docks and 
harbours, erection of warehouses and factories, construction of 
steamships and also in invention of new modes of interaction 
so with knowing and knowledge. The organs, instrumentalities 
and operations of knowing are inside nature, not outside. 
Hence they are changes of what previously existed : the object 


of knowledge is a constructed, existentially produced object. 
The shock to the traditional notion that knowledge is perfect 
in the degree in which it grasps or beholds without change 
some thing previously complete in itself is tremendous. But 
in effect it only makes us aware of what we have always done, 
as far as ever we have actually succeeded in knowing : it clears 
away superfluous and irrelevant accompaniments and it con- 
centrates attention upon the agencies which are actually effec- 
tive in obtaining knowledge, eliminating waste and making 
actual knowing more controllable. In installs man, thinking 
man, within nature. 

The doctrine that nature is inherently rational was a costly 
one. It entailed the idea that reason in man is an outside spec- 
tator of a rationality already complete in itself. It deprived 
reason in man of an active and creative office ; its business was 
simply to copy, to re-present symbolically, to view a given 
rational structure. Ability to make a transcript of this structure 
in mathematical formulae gives great delight to those who 
have the required ability. But it does nothing; it makes no 
difference in nature. In effect, it limits thought in man to 
retraversing in cognition a pattern fixed and complete in itself. 
The doctrine was both an effect of the traditional separation 
between knowledge and action and a factor in perpetuating it. 
It relegated practical making and doing to a secondary and 
relatively irrational realm. 

Its paralysing effect on human action is seen in the part 
it played in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the 
theory of "natural laws" in human affairs, in social matters. 
These natural laws were supposed to be inherently fixed; a 
science of social phenomena and relations was equivalent to 
discovery of them. Once discovered, nothing remained for 
man but to conform to them ; they were to rule his conduct as 
physical laws govern physical phenomena. They were the sole 
standard of conduct in economic affairs ; the laws of economics 
are the "natural" laws of all political action; other so-called 


laws are artificial, man-made contrivances in contrast with the 
normative regulations of nature itself. 

Laissez-faire was the logical conclusion. For organized society 
to attempt to regulate the course of economic affairs, to bring 
them into service of humanly conceived ends, was a harmful 

This doctrine is demonstratively the offspring of that con- 
ception of universal laws that phenomena must observe which 
was a heritage of the Newtonian philosophy. But if man in 
knowing is a participator in the natural scene, a factor in genera- 
ting things known, the fact that man participates as a factor 
in social affairs is no barrier to knowledge of them. On the 
contrary, a certain method of directed participation is a pre- 
condition of his having any genuine understanding. Human 
intervention for the sake of effecting ends is no interference, 
and it is a means of knowledge. 

There is thus involved more than a verbal shift if we say 
that the new scientific development effects an exchange of 
reason for intelligence. In saying this, "reason" has the tech- 
nical meaning given to it in classic philosophic tradition, the 
nous of the Greeks, the intellectus of the scholastics. In this 
meaning, it designates both an inherent immutable order of 
nature, superempirical in character, and the organ of mind by 
which this universal order is grasped. In both respects, reason 
is with respect to changing things the ultimate fixed standard 
the law physical phenomena obey, the norm human action 
should obey. For the marks of "reason" in its traditional sense 
are necessity, universality, superiority to change, domination 
of the occurrence and the understanding of change. 

Intelligence on the other hand is associated with judgment ; 
that is, with selection and arrangement of means to effect con- 
sequences and with choice of what we take as our ends. A man 
is intelligent not in virtue of having reason which grasps first 
and indemonstrable truths about fixed principles, in order to 
reason deductively from them to the particulars which they 


govern, but in virtue of his capacity to estimate the possibili- 
ties of a situation and to act in accordance with his estimate. 
In the large sense of the term, intelligence is as practical as 
reason is theoretical. Wherever intelligence operates, things 
are judged in their capacity of signs of other things. If scien- 
tific knowledge enables us to estimate more accurately the 
worth of things as signs, we can afford to exchange a loss of 
theoretical certitude for a gain in practical judgment. For if 
we can judge events as indications of other events, we can 
prepare in all cases for the coming of what is anticipated. In 
some cases, we can forestall a happening; desiring one event 
to happen rather than another, we can intentionally set about 
institution of those changes which our best knowledge tells us 
to be connected with that which we are after. 

What has been lost in the theoretical possibility of exact 
knowledge and exact prediction is more than compensated for 
by the fact that the knowing which occurs within nature 
involves possibility of direction of change. This conclusion 
gives intelligence a foothold and a function within nature 
which " reason " never possessed. That which acts outside of 
nature and is a mere spectator of it is, by definition, not a 
participator in its changes. Therefore it is debarred from taking 
part in directing them. Action may follow, but it is only an 
external attachment to knowing, not an inherent factor in it. 
As a mechanical addendum, it is inferior to knowledge. More- 
over, it must either issue automatically from knowledge or else 
there must be some intervening act of "will" to produce it. 
In any case, because of its externality it adds nothing to intelli- 
gence or knowledge. It can only increase personal shrewdness 
in prudential manipulation of conditions. 

We may, indeed, engage during knowing in experimenta- 
tion. But according to the classic logic the effect was not to 
reorganize prior conditions, but merely to bring about a change 
in our own subjective or mental attitude. The act no more 
entered into the constitution of the known object than travel- 


ling to Athens to see the Parthenon had any effect on archi- 
tecture. It makes a change in our own personal attitude and 
posture so that we can see better what was there all the time. 
It is a practical concession to the weakness of our powers 
of apprehension. The whole scheme hangs together with the 
traditional depreciation of practical activity on the part of the 
intellectual class. In reality, it also condemns intelligence to a 
position of impotency. Its exercise is an enjoyable use of 
leisure. The doctrine of its supreme value is largely a com- 
pensation for the impotency that attached to it in contrast with 
the force of executive acts. 

The realization that the observation necessary to knowledge 
enters into the natural object known cancels this separation 
of knowing and doing. It makes possible and it demands a 
theory in which knowing and doing are intimately connected 
with each other. Hence, as we have said, it domesticates the 
exercise of intelligence within nature. This is part and parcel 
of nature's own continuing interactions. Interactions go on 
anyway and produce changes. Apart from intelligence, these 
changes are not directed. They are effects but not consequences, 
for consequences imply means deliberately employed. When 
an interaction intervenes which directs the course of change, 
the scene of natural interaction has a new quality and dimen- 
sion. This added type of interaction is intelligence. The intelli- 
gent activity of man is not something brought to bear upon 
nature from without; it is nature realizing its own poten- 
tialities in behalf of a fuller and richer issue of events. Intelli- 
gence within nature means liberation and expansion, as reason 
outside of nature means fixation and restriction. 

The change does not mean that nature has lost intelligi- 
bility. It rather signifies that we are in position to realize that 
the term intelligible is to be understood literally. It expresses 
a potentiality rather than an actuality. Nature is capable of 
being understood. But the possibility is realized not by a mind 
thinking about it from without but by operations conducted 


from within, operations which give it new relations summed 
up in production of a new individual object. Nature has in- 
telligible order as its possession in the degree in which we by 
our own overt operations realize potentialities contained in it. 
The change from intrinsic rationality in the traditional sense 
to an intelligibility to be realized by human action places 
responsibility upon human beings. The devotion we show to 
the ideal of intelligence determines the extent in which the 
actual order of nature is congenial to mind. 

These conclusions connect directly with the question raised 
at the outset of this chapter. When knowledge is defined from 
the standpoint of a reality to which the conclusions of thought 
must accommodate themselves, as a photograph must be faith- 
ful to its original, there will always be disputes as to whether 
this or that subject can possibly be treated scientifically. But 
if the measure of knowledge is the quality of intelligence 
manifested in dealing with problems presented by any ex- 
perienced subject-matter, the issue takes on a different aspect. 
The question always at issue is the possibility of developing 
a method adequate to cope with problems. The conclusions of 
physical knowledge do indeed set a standard for knowing. But 
it is because of their elaboration of competent method that 
this statement is true, not because of any superior claim to 
reality on the part of physical subject-matter. All materials 
of experience are equally real; that is, all are existential; each 
has a right to be dealt with in terms of its own especial charac- 
teristics and its own problems. To use philosophical ter- 
minology, each type of subject-matter is entitled to its own 
characteristic categories, according to the questions it raises and 
the operations necessary to answer them. 

The difference between various types of knowledge thus 
turns out to be a difference in fullness and range of conditions 
involved in subject-matter dealt with. When one considers the 
success of astronomy in attaining understanding of phenomena 
occurring at enormous distances one may well be lost in 


admiration. But we should also reflect upon how much is omitted 
from inquiry and conclusion. Our knowledge of human affairs 
on this earth is inexact and unorganized as compared with 
some things which we know about bodies distant many, many 
light-years. But there are vast multitudes of things about these 
bodies that astronomy makes no pretence of inquiring into. 
The relative perfection of its conclusions is connected with the 
strict limitation of the problems it deals with. The case of 
astronomy is typical of physical science in general as compared 
with knowledge of human affairs. The essence of the latter is 
that we cannot indulge in the selective abstractions that are 
the secret of the success of physical knowing. When we intro- 
duce a like simplification into social and moral subjects we 
eliminate the distinctively human factors: reduction to the 
physical ensues. 

The principle is exemplified in the difference which is found 
between results obtained in the laboratory and in manufac- 
turing processes carried on for commercial purposes. The same 
materials and relations may be involved. But under laboratory 
conditions elements are isolated and treated under a control 
not possible in the factory, where the same rigid isolation 
would defeat the aim of cheap production on a large scale. 
Nevertheless, in the end, the researches of scientific inquiries 
transform industrial production. Possibilities of new operations 
are suggested, and the laboratory results indicate ways of 
eliminating wasteful operations and make manifest conditions 
which have to be attended to. Artificial simplification or ab- 
straction is a necessary precondition of securing ability to deal 
with affairs which are complex, in which there are many more 
variables and where strict isolation destroys the special charac- 
teristics of the subject-matter. This statement conveys the 
important distinction which exists between physical and social 
and moral objects. The distinction is one of methods of 
operation, not of kinds of reality. 

In other words, what is meant by "physical" in distinction 


from other adjectives that are prefixed to subject-matter is 
precisely an abstraction of a limited range of conditions and 
relations out of a total complex. The same principle applies to 
mathematical objects. The use of symbols designating possible 
operations makes possible a greater degree of exactness and 
intellectual organization. There is no disparagement of ab- 
straction involved. Abstraction is simply an instance of the 
economy and efficiency involved in all intelligent practice: 
deal first with matters that can be effectively handled, and 
then use the results to go on to cope with more complex affairs. 
Objection comes in, and comes in with warranted force, when 
the results of an abstractive operation are given a standing 
which belongs only to the total situation from which they 
have been selected. All specialization breeds a familiarity 
which tends to create an illusion. Material dealt with by 
specialized abstractive processes comes to have a psychological 
independence and completion which is converted hyposta- 
tized into objective independence and self-sufficiency. 

In addition there is a definite social reason for abstractive 
simplification. Intercourse of human individuals with one 
another makes it necessary to find common ground. Just 
because individuals are individuals, there is much in the ex- 
perience of each which is unique; being incommunicable in 
and of itself, it is in so far a bar to entering into relations 
with others. For the purposes of communication, dissection is 
necessary. Otherwise the personal element is a bar to agree- 
ment and understanding. If one follows out this line of 
thought, it will be evident that the more widely extended is 
the notion of mutual comprehensibility, the more completely 
all individual traits tend to get excluded from the object of 
thought. In arriving at statements which hold for all possible 
experiencers and observers under all possible varying indi- 
vidual circumstances we arrive at that which is most remote 
from any one concrete experience. In this sense, the abstrac- 
tions of mathematics and ohvsics renresent the common 


denominators in all things experienceable. Taken by themselves 
they seem to present a caput mortuum. Erected into complete 
statements of reality as such, they become hallucinatory obses- 
sions. But in practice, there is always an accompanying reverse 
movement. These generalized findings are employed to enrich 
the meanings of individualized experiences, and to afford, 
within limits of probability, an increased control of them. 

It is in this sense that all reflective knowledge as such is 
instrumental. The beginning and the end is the things of gross 
everyday experience. But apart from knowledge the things of 
our ordinary experience are fragmentary, casual, unregulated 
by purpose, full of frustrations and barriers. In the language 
previously used, they are problematic, obstructive, and chal- 
lenges to thought. By ignoring for a time their concrete and 
qualitative fullness, by making abstractions and generalizations, 
we ascertain certain basic relations upon which occurrence of 
the things experienced depends. We treat them as mere events, 
that is, as changes brought about in a system of relationships, 
ignoring their individualizing qualities. But the qualities are 
still there, are still experienced, although as such they are not 
the objects of knowledge. But we return from abstractive 
thought to experience of them with added meaning and with 
increased power to regulate our relations to them. 

Reflective knowledge is the only means of regulation. Its 
value as instrumental is unique. Consequently philosophers, 
themselves occupied in a fascinating branch of reflective know- 
ledge, have isolated knowledge and its results. They have 
ignored its context of origin and function and made it co- 
extensive with all valid experience. The doctrine was thus 
formed that all experience of worth is inherently cognitive; 
that other modes of experienced objects are to be tested, not 
here and there as occasion demands but universally by reduc- 
tion to the terms of known objects. This assumption of the 
proper ubiquity of knowledge is the great intellectualistic fallacy. 
It is the source of all disparagement of everyday qualitative 



experience, practical, aesthetic, moral. It is the ultimate source 
of the doctrine that calls subjective and phenomenal all objects 
of experience that cannot be reduced to properties of objects 
of knowledge. 

From this derogation of the things we experience by way 
of love, desire, hope, fear, purpose and the traits charac- 
teristic of human individuality, we are saved by the realization 
of the purposefully instrumental and abstract character of 
objects of reflective knowledge. One mode of experience is as 
real as any other. But apart from the exercise of intelligence 
which yields knowledge, the realities of our emotional and 
practical life have fragmentary and inconsistent meanings and 
are at the mercy of forces beyond our control. We have no 
choice save to accept them or to flee from them. Experience of 
that phase of objects which is constituted by their relations, 
their interactions, with one another, makes possible a new way 
of dealing with them, and thus eventually creates a new kind 
of experienced objects, not more real than those which 
preceded but more significant, and less overwhelming and 

Thus the recognition that intelligence is a method opera- 
ting within the world places physical knowledge in respect to 
other kinds of knowing. It deals with those relations which 
are of the broadest scope. It affords a sure foundation for 
other more specialized forms of knowing: not in the sense 
that these must be reduced to the objects in which physical 
knowledge terminates, but in the sense that the latter supply 
intellectual points of departure, and suggest operations to be 
employed. There is no kind of inquiry which has a monopoly 
of the honourable title of knowledge. The engineer, the artist, 
the historian, the man of affairs attain knowledge in the degree 
they employ methods that enable them to solve the problems 
which develop in the subject-matter they are concerned with. 
As philosophy framed upon the pattern of experimental inquiry 
does away with all wholesale scepticism, so it eliminates all 


invidious monopolies of the idea of science. By their fruits we 
shall know them. 

The marking off of certain conclusions as alone truly science, 
whether mathematical or physical, is an historical incident. 
It sprang originally from man's desire for a certainty and 
peace which he could not attain practically in the absence of 
the arts of management and direction of natural conditions. 
When modern physical inquiry began, it had a hard time to 
get a hearing, or even to be permitted to carry on. The temp- 
tation was practically irresistible to treat it as an exclusive and 
esoteric undertaking. Moreover, as it progressed, it required 
more and more specialized technical preparation. The motive 
of defence from social attack and the motive of glorification 
of a specialized calling conspired together. All the eulogistic 
connotations that gather about "truth" were called into play. 

Thus "science", meaning physical knowledge, became a kind 
of sanctuary. A religious atmosphere, not to say an idolatrous 
one, was created. "Science" was set apart; its findings were 
supposed to have a privileged relation to the real. In fact, 
the painter may know colours as well as the physicist ; the poet 
may know stars, rain and clouds as well as the meteorologist ; 
the statesman, educator and dramatist may know human nature 
as truly as the professional psychologist ; the farmer may know 
soils and plants as truly as the botanist and mineralogist. 
For the criterion of knowledge lies in the method used to 
secure consequences and not in metaphysical conceptions of 
the nature of the real. Nevertheless in the end thinkers in all 
lines are dependent upon the mathematician and the physical 
inquirer for perfecting of the tools employed in their respective 

That "knowledge" has many meanings follows from the 
operational definition of conceptions. There are as many con- 
ceptions of knowledge as there are distinctive operations by 
which problematic situations are resolved. When it is asserted 
that reflective knowledge as such is instrumental, it is not 


meant that there is an a priori form of non-reflective know- 
ledge, one which is immediately given. What is signified is 
that there is a direct possession and enjoyment of meanings to be 
had in that experience of objects which issues from reflective 
knowledge. It is futile to argue whether the conclusions of 
reflective method as such or the eventual objects enriched in 
meaning which are capable of direct perception and use more 
truly deserve the title of knowledge. It is congenial to our 
idiom to call the reflective conclusions of competent methods 
by the name of science. But science thus conceived is not a final 
thing. The final thing is appreciation and use of things of 
direct experience. These are known in as far as their constituents 
and their form are the result of science. But they are also 
more than science. They are natural objects experienced in 
relations and continuities that are summed up in rich and 
definite individual forms. 


UNCERTAINTY is PRIMARILY A practical matter. It signifies 
uncertainty of the issue of present experiences; these are 
fraught with future peril as well as inherently objectionable. 
Action to get rid of the objectionable has no warrant of success 
and is itself perilous. The intrinsic troublesome and uncertain 
quality of situations lies in the fact that they hold outcomes in 
suspense; they move to evil or to good fortune. The natural 
tendency of man is to do something at once ; there is impatience 
with suspense, and lust for immediate action. When action 
lacks means for control of external conditions, it takes the form 
of acts which are the prototypes of rite and cult. Intelligence 
signifies that direct action has become indirect. It continues to 
be overt, but it is directed into channels of examination of con- 
ditions, and doings that are tentative and preparatory. Instead 
of rushing to "do something about it", action centres upon find- 
ing out something about obstacles and resources and upon pro- 
jecting inchoate later modes of definite response. Thinking has 
been well called deferred action. But not all action is deferred; 
only that which is final and in so far productive of irretrievable 
consequences. Deferred action is present exploratory action. 

The first and most obvious effect of this change in the quality 
of action is that the dubious or problematic situation becomes 
a problem. The risky character that pervades a situation as a 
whole is translated into an object of inquiry that locates what 
the trouble is, and hence facilitates projection of methods and 
means of dealing with it. Only after expertness has been gained 
in special fields of inquiry does the mind set out at once from 
problems: even then, in novel cases, there is a preliminary 
period of groping through a situation which is characterized 
throughout by confusion, instead of presenting a clear-cut 
problem for investigation. 


Many definitions of mind and thinking have been given. 
I know of but one that goes to the heart of the matter: 
response to the doubtful as such. No inanimate thing reacts to 
things as problematic. Its behaviour to other things is capable 
of description in terms of what is determinately there. Under 
given conditions, it just reacts or does not react. Its reactions 
merely enstate a new set of conditions, in which reactions con- 
tinue without regard to the nature of their outcome. It makes 
no difference, so to say, to a stone what are the results of its 
interactions with other things. It enjoys the advantage that it 
makes no difference how it reacts, even if the effect is its own 
pulverization. It requires no argument to show that the case 
is different with a living organism. To live signifies that a 
connected continuity of acts is effected in which preceding ones 
prepare the conditions under which later ones occur. There is 
a chain of cause and effects, of course, in what happens with 
inanimate things. But for living creatures, the chain has a 
particular cumulative continuity, or else death ensues. 

As organisms become more complex in structure and thus 
related to a more complex environment, the importance of a 
particular act in establishing conditions favourable to subse- 
quent acts that sustain the continuity of the life process be- 
comes at once more difficult and more imperative. A juncture 
may be so critical that the right or wrong present move signifies 
life or death. Conditions of the environment become more 
ambivalent : it is more uncertain what sort of action they call 
for in the interests of living. Behaviour is thus compelled to 
become more hesitant and wary, more expectant and prepara- 
tory. In the degree that responses take place to the doubtful 
as the doubtful, they acquire mental quality. If they are such 
as to have a directed tendency to change the precarious and 
problematic into the secure and resolved, they are intellectual 
as well as mental. Acts are then relatively more instrumental 
and less consummatory or final; even the latter are haunted 
by a sense of what may issue from them. 


This conception of the mental brings to unity various modes 
of response; emotional, volitional and intellectual. It is usual 
to say that there is no fundamental difference among these 
activities that they are all different phases or aspects of a 
common action of mind. But I know of but one way of making 
this assertion good : that in which they are seen to be distinctive 
modes of response to the uncertain. The emotional aspect of 
responsive behaviour is its immediate quality. When we are con- 
fronted with the precarious, an ebb and flow of emotion marks 
a disturbance of the even tenor of existence. Emotions are 
conditioned by the indeterminateness of present situations 
with respect to their issue. Fear and hope, joy and sorrow, 
aversion and desire, as perturbations, are qualities of a divided 
response. They involve concern, solicitude, for what the present 
situation may become. "Care" signifies two quite different 
things : fret, worry and anxiety, and cherishing attention to that 
in whose potentialities we are interested. These two meanings 
represent different poles of reactive behaviour to a present 
having a future which is ambiguous. Elation and depression, 
moreover, manifest themselves only under conditions wherein 
not everything from start to finish is completely determined 
and certain. They may occur at a final moment of triumph 
or defeat, but this moment is one of victory or frustration in 
connection with a previous course of affairs whose issue was in 
suspense. Love for a Being so perfect and complete that our 
regard for it can make no difference to it is not so much affec- 
tion as (a fact which the scholastics saw) it is concern for the 
destiny of our own souls. Hate that is sheer antagonism 
without any element of uncertainty is not an emotion, but is 
an energy devoted to ruthless destruction. Aversion is a state 
of affectivity only in connection with an obstruction offered 
by the disliked object or person to an end made uncertain 
by it. 

The volitional phase of mental life is notoriously connected 
with the emotional. The only difference is that the latter is 


the immediate, the cross-sectional, aspect of response to the 
uncertain and precarious, while the volitional phase is the 
tendency of the reaction to modify indeterminate, ambiguous 
conditions in the direction of a preferred and favoured outcome ; 
to actualize one of its possibilities rather than another. Emotion 
is a hindrance or an aid to resolute will according as it is over- 
whelming in its immediacy or as it marks a gathering together 
of energy to deal with the situation whose issue is in doubt. 
Desire, purpose, planning, choice, have no meaning save in 
conditions where something is at stake, and where action in 
one direction rather than another may eventuate in bringing 
into existence a new situation which fulfils a need. 

The intellectual phase of mental action is identical with 
an indirect mode of response, one whose purpose is to locate 
the nature of the trouble and form an idea of how it may be 
dealt with so that operations may be directed in view of an 
intended solution. Take any incident of experience you choose, 
seeing a colour, reading a book, listening to conversation, mani- 
pulating apparatus, studying a lesson, and it has or has not 
intellectual, cognitive quality according as there is deliberate 
endeavour to deal with the indeterminate so as to dispose of it, 
to settle it. Anything that may be called knowledge, or a known 
object, marks a question answered, a difficulty disposed of, a 
confusion cleared up, an inconsistency reduced to coherence, 
a perplexity mastered. Without reference to this mediating 
element, what is called knowledge is but direct and unswerving 
action or else a possessive enjoyment. Similarly, thinking is 
the actual transition from the problematic to the secure, as far 
as that is intentionally guided. There is no separate "mind" 
gifted in and of itself with a faculty of thought ; such a con- 
ception of thought ends in postulating the mystery of a power 
outside of nature and yet able to intervene within it. Thinking 
is objectively discoverable as that mode of serial responsive 
behaviour to a problematic situation in which transition to the 
relatively settled and clear is effected. 


The concrete pathologies of belief, its failures and perver- 
sions, whether of defect or excess, spring from failure to 
observe and adhere to the principle that knowledge is the 
completed resolution of the inherently indeterminate or 
doubtful. The commonest fallacy is to suppose that since the 
state of doubt is accompanied by a feeling of uncertainty, 
knowledge arises when this feeling gives way to one of assurance. 
Thinking then ceases to be an effort to effect change in the 
objective situation and is replaced by various devices which 
generate a change in feeling or "consciousness". Tendency to 
premature judgment, jumping at conclusions, excessive love of 
simplicity, making over of evidence to suit desire, taking the 
familiar for the clear, etc., all spring from confusing the feeling 
of certitude with a certified situation. Thought hastens toward 
the settled and is only too likely to force the pace. The natural 
man dislikes the dis-ease which accompanies the doubtful and 
is ready to take almost any means to end it. Uncertainty is 
got rid of by fair means or foul. Long exposure to danger 
breeds an overpowering love of security. Love for security, 
translated into a desire not to be disturbed and unsettled, leads 
to dogmatism, to acceptance of beliefs upon authority, to 
intolerance and fanaticism on one side and to irresponsible 
dependence and sloth on the other. 

Here is where ordinary thinking and thinking that is scrupu- 
lous diverge from each other. The natural man is impatient 
with doubt and suspense: he impatiently hurries to be shut 
of it. A disciplined mind takes delight in the problematic, and 
cherishes it until a way out is found that approves itself upon 
examination. The questionable becomes an active questioning, 
a search; desire for the emotion of certitude gives place to 
quest for the objects by which the obscure and unsettled may 
be developed into the stable and clear. The scientific attitude 
may almost be defined as that which is capable of enjoying 
the doubtful; scientific method is, in one aspect, a technique 
for making a productive use of doubt by converting it into 


operations of definite inquiry. No one gets far intellectually 
who does not "love to think", and no one loves to think who 
does not have an interest in problems as such. Being on the 
alert for problems signifies that mere organic curiosity, the 
restless disposition to meddle and reach out, has become a truly 
intellectual curiosity, one that protects a person from hurrying 
to a conclusion and that induces him to undertake active search 
for new facts and ideas. Scepticism that is not such a search 
is as much a personal emotional indulgence as is dogmatism. 
Attainment of the relatively secure and settled takes place, 
however, only with respect to specified problematic situations ; 
quest for certainty that is universal, applying to everything, is 
a compensatory perversion. One question is disposed of; 
another offers itself and thought is kept alive. 

When we compare the theory of mind and its organs which 
develops from analysis of what takes place when precarious 
situations are translated into statement and resolution of 
problems, with other theories, the outstanding difference is 
that the first type of theory introduces no elements save such 
as are public, observable, and verifiable. In general, when 
there is discourse about the mental organs and processes of 
knowing we are told about sensations, mental images, con- 
sciousness and its various states, as if these were capable of 
identification in and of themselves. These mental organs having 
had meaning assigned to them in isolation from the operations 
of resolving a problematic situation, are then used to give an 
account of the actual operations of knowing. The more evident 
and observable is thus "explained" in terms of the obscure, 
the obscurity being hidden from view because of habits that 
have the weight of tradition behind them. 

We do not need to repeat the results of the previous dis- 
cussion. They are all connected with the theory that inquiry 
is a set of operations in which problematic situations are 
disposed of or settled. Theories which have been criticized 
all rest upon a different supposition ; namely, that the proper- 


ties of the states and acts of mind involved in knowing are 
capable of isolated determination of description apart from 
overt acts that resolve indeterminate and ambiguous situations. 
The fundamental advantage of framing our account of the 
organs and processes of knowing on the pattern of what occurs 
in experimental inquiry is that nothing is introduced save what 
is objective and is accessible to examination and report. If it is 
objected that such an examination itself involves mind and its 
organs, the rejoinder is that the theory we have advanced is 
self-applying. Its only "assumption" is that something is done, 
done in the ordinary external sense of that word, and that 
this doing has consequences. We define mind and its organs 
in terms of this doing and its results, just as we define or frame 
ideas of stars, acids, and digestive tissues in terms of their 
behaviour. If it be urged that we do not know whether the 
results of the directed operations are really knowledge or not, 
the answer is, the objection assumes that we have some kind 
of advance intimation of what sort of a thing knowledge must 
be, and hence can use this conception as a standard for judging 
particular conclusions. The theory in question makes no such 
assumption. It asserts that by some operations conclusions 
emerge in which objects once uncertain and confused are ren- 
dered clear and stable. Alter names as much as you please; 
refuse to call one set of consequences knowledge and another 
error, or reverse the appellations, and these consequences 
remain just what they are. They present the difference between 
resolved and clarified situations and disordered and obscure 
ones. A rose by another name would smell as sweet; the gist 
of the theory advanced is to point to operations performed and 
to the consequences which issue from them. 

Another point of difference is that traditional theories of 
mind and its organs of knowledge isolate them from continuity 
with the natural world. They are, in the literal sense of the 
word, super-natural or extra-natural. The problem of mind 
and body, of how it happens that bodily structures are involved 


in observing and thinking, is then unavoidable. When little 
was known about organic structures, one reason for looking 
down upon perception was that its connection with bodily 
organs, the eye and ear and hand, could not escape notice, 
while thought could be regarded as a purely spiritual act. But 
now we are aware that the exercise of thought bears the same 
relation to the brain that perception bears to sense organs, and 
that there is no separation, structural or functional, between 
the eye and ear and the central organs. Consequently it is 
impossible to think of sense as quasi-physical and thought as 
purely mental, as if the mental meant just the non-material. 
Yet we retain theories about the mental formed before we had 
this knowledge. Consequently, since those theories isolate 
knowing from doing, the dependence of knowing upon bodily 
organs becomes a mystery a "problem". 

But if knowing is one mode of doing, then it, as well as 
other modes of doing, properly involves bodily instruments. 
The metaphysical problem of the relation of mind and body 
is converted into a question, to be solved by observation of 
facts, of a differentiation of actions into those on a strictly 
physiological level and those which, because of directed 
quality and distinctive consequences, are mental. 

While traditional theories regard mind as an intruder from 
without into the natural development, or evolution, of organic 
structures, or else in the interest of natural continuity feel 
compelled to deny that mental behaviour has any differential 
features, the theory that organic responses have mental quality 
in the degree in which they deal with the uncertain recognizes 
both continuity and difference. It can, in principle if not as yet 
in detail, give a genetic account of the development of mental 
and intellectual processes. There is neither a sudden jump from 
the merely organic to the intellectual, nor is there complete 
assimilation of the latter to primitive modes of the former. 

On the objective side, the great difference between the 
conceotion orooosed and that of traditional theorv consists in 


recognition of the objective character of indeterminateness : it 
is a real property of some natural existences. Greek thought 
at least acknowledged the presence of contingency in natural 
existence, although it used this property of uncertainty to 
assign to natural existence a lower status than that which 
belongs to necessary Being. Modern thought, largely under 
the influence of a Newtonian philosophy of nature, tended to 
treat all existence as wholly determinate. The inherently in- 
complete was eliminated from nature along with qualities and 
ends. In consequence, the mental was sharply marked off from 
the physically natural; for the mental was obviously charac- 
terized by doubt and uncertainty. Mind was placed outside of 
nature; its relation to nature in knowing the latter became a 
dark mystery; the uncertain and indeterminate were said to 
be merely subjective. The contrast between the doubtful and 
the determinate became one of the chief marks by which 
objective and subjective were demarcated from each other and 
placed in opposition. 

According to this doctrine, we are doubtful, puzzled, con- 
fused, undecided; objects are complete, assured, fixed. It is 
not easy to reconcile this notion with the fact that in order 
to relieve our doubt, to "make up" our minds, we have to 
modify in some way, in imaginative or overt experimentation, 
the situation in which uncertainty is experienced. Moreover, 
the procedure of science is conclusive. If doubt and inde- 
terminateness were wholly within the mind whatever that 
may signify purely mental processes ought to get rid of them. 
But experimental procedure signifies that actual alteration of 
an external situation is necessary to effect the conversion. A 
situation undergoes, through operations directed by thought, 
transition from problematic to settled, from internal discon- 
tinuity to coherency and organization. 

If we define ' 'mental' ' through exclusion of overt acts that 
terminate in a changed environment, nothing merely mental 
can actually resolve doubt or clarify confusion. At most it can 


produce only a feeling of certainty something best obtained 
by withdrawing from the real world and cultivating fantasies. 
The idea that doubt and assurance are merely subjective is con- 
tradicted by the coincidence of the progress of physical inquiry 
with invention and use of physical instruments. In principle, 
the correspondence of what we do when a situation is practically 
unsatisfactory with what happens in the case of intellectual 
doubt is complete. If a man finds himself in a situation which 
is practically annoying and troublesome, he has just two courses 
open to him. He can make a change in himself either by run- 
ning away from trouble or by steeling himself to Stoic endur- 
ance ; or he can set to work to do something so as to change the 
conditions of which unsatisfactoriness is a quality. When the 
latter course is impossible, nothing remains but the former. 

Some change of personal attitude is the part of wisdom in 
any case, for there are few if any cases of trouble into which 
a personal factor of desire or aversion does not enter as a 
productive cause. But the idea that this causal factor can be 
changed by purely direct means, by an exercise of "will" or 
"thought", is illusory. A change of desire and purpose can 
itself be effected only indirectly, by a change in one's actual 
relation to environment. This change implies definite acts. The 
technological appliances and agencies that man has constructed 
to make these acts effective correspond to the development 
of instruments of scientific inquiry by which outer conditions 
are intentionally varied. 

The relegation of the problematic to the "subjective*' is 
a product of the habit of isolating man and experience from 
nature. Curiously enough, modern science has joined with 
traditional theology in perpetuating this isolation. If the 
physical terms by which natural science deals with the world 
are supposed to constitute that world, it follows as a matter of 
course that qualities we experience and which are the distinctive 
things in human life, fall outside of nature. Since some of these 
qualities are the traits that give life purpose and value, it is not 


surprising that many thinkers are dissatisfied with thinking of 
them as merely subjective; nor that they have found in tradi- 
tional religious beliefs and in some elements of the classic 
philosophic tradition means by which these traits can be used 
to substantiate the being of a reality higher than nature, one 
qualified by the purpose and value that are extruded from 
natural existence. Modern idealism cannot be understood apart 
from the conditions that have generated it. Fundamentally, 
these conditions are the fusion of the positive results of the 
older metaphysics with the negative conclusions of modern 
science: negative, that is to say, when, because of the per- 
sistence of earlier notions about mind and the office of know- 
ledge, science is taken to disclose an antecedent natural world. 

The organism is a part of the natural world ; its interactions 
with it are genuine additive phenomena. When, with the 
development of symbols, also a natural occurrence, these inter- 
actions are directed towards anticipated consequences, they gain 
the quality of intelligence, and knowledge accrues. Problematic 
situations when they are resolved then gain the meaning of all 
the relations which the operations of thought have defined. 
Things that were casually effective in producing experienced 
results become means to consequences; these consequences 
incorporate in themselves all the meanings found in the causes 
which intentionally produce them. The supposed grounds for 
opposing human experience to the reality of nature disappear. 
Situations have problematic and resolved characters in and 
through the actual interactions of the organism and the en- 
vironment. To refuse to treat these qualities as characteristic 
of nature itself is due to an arbitrary refusal to ascribe to some 
modes of interaction the existential character which is assigned 
as a matter of course to others. 

We have seen that situations are precarious and perilous 
because the persistence of life-activity depends upon the 
influence which present acts have upon future acts. The con- 
tinuity of a life-process is secured only as acts performed 


render the environment favourable to subsequent organic acts. 
The formal generalized statement of this fact is as follows: 
The occurrence of problematic and unsettled situations is due 
to the characteristic union of the discrete or individual and the 
continuous or relational. All perceived objects are individualized. 
They are, as such, wholes complete in themselves. Everything 
directly experienced is qualitatively unique; it has its own 
focus about which subject-matter is arranged, and this focus 
never exactly recurs. While every such situation shades off 
indefinitely, or is not sharply marked off from others, yet the 
pattern of arrangement of content is never exactly twice 

If the interactions involved in having such an individualized 
situation in experience were wholly final or consummatory, 
there would be no such thing as a situation which is problem- 
atic. In being individual and complete in itself, just what it 
is and nothing else, it would be discrete in the sense in which 
discreteness signifies complete isolation. Obscurity, for example, 
would be a final quality, like any other quality and as good 
as any other just as the dusk of twilight is enjoyed instead 
of being troublesome until we need to see something the dusk 
interferes with seeing. Every situation has vagueness attending 
it, as it shades off from a sharper focus into what is indefinite; 
for vagueness is added quality and not something objectionable 
except as it obstructs gaining an eventual object. 

There are situations in which self-enclosed, discrete, indi- 
vidualized characters dominate. They constitute the subject* 
matter of aesthetic experience ; and every experience is aesthetic 
in as far as it is final or arouses no search for some other 
experience. When this complete quality is conspicuous the 
experience is denominated aesthetic. The fine arts have as their 
purpose the construction of objects of just such experiences ; 
and under some conditions the completeness of the object 
enjoyed gives the experience a quality so intense that it is 
justly termed religious. Peace and harmony suffuse the entire 


universe gathered up into the situation having a particular 
focus and pattern. These qualities mark any experience in as 
far as its final character dominates ; in so far a mystic experience 
is simply an accentuated intensification of a quality of experience 
repeatedly had in the rhythm of experiences. 

Interactions, however, are not isolated. No experienced 
situation can retain indefinitely its character of finality, for 
the interrelations that constitute it are, because they are inter- 
actions, themselves changing. They produce a change in what 
is experienced. The effort to maintain directly a consum- 
matory experienced or to repeat it exactly is the source of 
unreal sentimentality and of insincerity. In the continuous 
ongoing of life, objects part with something of their final 
character and become conditions of subsequent experiences. 
There is regulation of the change in the degree in which a 
causal character is rendered preparatory and instrumental. 

In other words, all experienced objects have a double status. 
They are individualized, consummately, whether in the way 
of enjoyment or of suffering. They are also involved in a 
continuity of interactions and changes, and hence are causes 
and potential means of later experiences. Because of this dual 
capacity, they become problematic. Immediately and directly 
they are just what they are ; but as transitions to and possi- 
bilities of later experiences they are uncertain. There is a 
divided response; part of the organic activity is directed to 
them for what they immediately are, and part to them as 
transitive means of other experienced objects. We react to them 
both as finalities and in preparatory ways, and the two reactions 
do not harmonize. 

This twofold character of experienced objects is the source 
of their problematic character. Each of us can recall many 
occasions when he has been perplexed by disagreement 
between things directly present and their potential value as 
signs and means; when he has been torn between absorption 
in what is now enjoyed and the need of altering it so as to 



prepare for something likely to come. If we state the point 
in a formal way, it is signified that there is an incompatibility 
between the traits of an object in its direct individual and 
unique nature and those traits that belong to it in its relations 
or continuities. This incompatibility can be removed only by 
actions which temporally reconstruct what is given and con- 
stitute a new object having both individuality and the internal 
coherence of continuity in a series. 

Previous discussion has been a statement of the chief factors 
that operate in bringing about this reconstruction of resolving 
a problematic situation : Acts of analytic reduction of the gross 
total situation to determine data qualities that locate the 
nature of the problem; formation of ideas or hypotheses to 
direct further operations that reveal new material; deductions 
and calculations that organize the new and old subject-matter 
together; operations that finally determine the existence of a 
new integrated situation with added meaning, and in so doing 
test or prove the ideas that have been employed. 

Without retraversing that discussion, I wish to add a few 
words on one point involved in it. Nothing is more familiar 
than the standardized objects of reference designated by com- 
mon nouns. Their distinction from proper names shows that 
they are not singular or individual, not existing things. Yet 
"the table" is both more familiar and seemingly more sub- 
stantial than this table, the individual. "This" undergoes 
change all the time. It is interacting with other things and with 
me, who are not exactly the same person as when I last wrote 
upon it. "This" is an indefinitely multiple and varied series of 

But save in extreme cases, these changes are indifferent, 
negligible, from the standpoint of means for consequences. The 
table is precisely the constancy among the serial "thises" of 
whatever serves as an instrument for a single end. Knowledge 
is concerned wholly with this constant, this standardized and 
averaged set of properties and relations : just as aesthetic per- 


ception is occupied with "this" in its individuality, irrespective 
of value in use. In the degree in which reactions are inchoate 
and unformed, "this" tends to be the buzzing, blooming con- 
fusion of which James wrote. As habits form, action is stereo- 
typed into a fairly constant series of acts having a common end 
in view; the table serves a single use, in spite of individual 
variations. A group of properties is set aside, corresponding 
to the abiding end and single mode of use which form the 
object, in distinction from "this" of unique experiences. The 
object is an abstraction, but unless it is hypostatized it is not a 
vicious abstraction. It designates selected relations of things 
which, with respect to their mode of operation, are constant 
within the limits practically important. Moreover, the ab- 
stracted object has a consequence in the individualized ex- 
periences, one that is immediate and not merely instrumental 
to them. It marks an ordering and organizing of responses 
in a single focused way in virtue of which the original blur is 
definitized and rendered significant. Without habits dealing 
with recurrent and constant uses of things for abiding purposes, 
immediate aesthetic perception would have neither rich nor 
clear meanings immanent within it. 

The scientific or physical object marks an extension of the 
same sort of operation. The table, as not a table but as a swarm 
of molecules in motions of specified velocities and accelera- 
tions, corresponds to a liberated generalization of the purposes 
which the object may serve. "Table" signifies a definite but 
restricted set of uses; stated in the physical terms of science 
it is thought of in a wider environment and free from any 
specified set of uses; out of relation to any particular indi- 
vidualized experience. The abstraction is as legitimate as is 
that which gives rise to the idea of the table, for it consists 
of standardized relations or interactions. It is even more useful 
or more widely instrumental. For it has connection with an 
indefinite variety of unspecified but possible consummatory 
individual observations and enjoyments. It waits like a servant, 


idle for a time, but ready to be called upon as special occasion 
arises. When this standardized constant, the result of series of 
operations and expressing an indefinite multitude of possible 
relations among concrete things, is treated as the reality of 
nature, an instrument made for a purpose is hypostatized into 
a substance complete and self-sufficient in isolation. Then the 
fullness of qualities present in individual situations have to be 
treated as subjective impressions mysteriously produced in 
mind by the real object or else as products of a mysterious 
creative faculty of consciousness. 

The bearing of the conclusion upon the qualitative values 
of experienced objects is evident. Interactions of things with 
the organism eventuate in objects perceived to be coloured and 
sonorous. They also result in qualities that make the object 
hateful or delightful. All these qualities, taken as directly 
perceived or enjoyed, are terminal effects of natural inter- 
actions. They are individualized culminations that give static 
quality to a network of changes. Thus "tertiary" qualities (as 
they have been happily termed by Mr. Santayana), those which, 
in psychological analysis, we call affectional and emotional, are 
as much products of the doings of nature as are colour, sound, 
pressure, perceived size and distance. But their very consum- 
matory quality stands in the way of using the things they 
qualify as signs of other things. Intellectually they are even 
more in the way than are "secondary" qualities. With respect 
to preparatory acts they are useless; when they are treated 
as signs and means they work injury to thought and dis- 
covery. When not experienced, they are projected in thought 
as ends to be reached and in that dependence upon thought 
they are felt to be peculiarly mental. But only if the object, 
the physical object, instrumental in character, is supposed to 
define "the real" in an exhaustive way, do they cease to be 
for. the philosopher what they are for the common man: 
real qualities of natural objects. This view forms the only 
complete and unadulterated realism. 


The problem which is supposed to exist between two tables, 
one that of direct perception and use and the other that of 
physics (to take the favourite illustration of recent discussion) 
is thus illusory. The perceived and used table is the only 
table, for it alone has both individuality of form without 
which nothing can exist or be perceived, and also includes 
within itself a continuum of relations or interactions brought 
to a focus. We may perhaps employ more instructively an 
illustration derived from the supposed contrast between an 
object experienced in perception as it is rendered by a poet 
and the same object described by a physicist. There is the 
instance of a body of water where the movement of the wind 
over its surface is reflected in sunlight. As an object of science, 
it is reported as follows: "Ethereal vibrations of various wave 
lengths, reflected at different angles from the disturbed inter- 
face between air and water, reached our eyes and by photo- 
electric action caused appropriate stimuli to travel along optic 
nerves to a brain centre/' Such a statement, however, includes 
ordinary objects of individual perceptions; water, air, brain 
and nerves. Consequently, it must be reduced still further; 
when so reduced it consists of mathematical functions between 
certain physical constants having no counterpart in ordinary 
perception. 1 

It is worth while at this point to recur to the metric character 
of the physical object. Defining metric traits are reached by 
a series of operations of which they express the statistically 
constant outcome; they are not the result of a single act. Hence 
the physical object cannot be taken to be a single or individual 

1 The illustration is borrowed from Eddington, The Nature of the 
Physical World \ see pp. 316-319. It is indicative of the hold which the 
older tradition of knowledge as the exclusive revelation of reality has 
obtained, that Eddington finds no way to combine this account with 
the poetic account, save to suppose that while the scientific statement 
describes reality as it is "in itself", the creative activity of mind adds 
to this skeleton the qualities characterizing an object in direct 


thing in existence. Metric definitions are also, in large measure, 
reached by indirect measurements, by calculation. In other 
words, the conception of the physical object is, in considerable 
degree, the outcome of complex operations of comparison and 
translation. In consequence, while the physical object is not any 
one of the things compared, it enables things qualitatively 
unlike and individual to be treated as if they were members 
of a comprehensive, homogeneous or non-qualitative system. 
The possibility of control of the occurrence of individualized 
objects is thereby increased. At the same time, the latter gain 
added meaning, for the import of the scheme of continuity of 
relationships with other things is incorporated within them. 
The procedure of physics itself, not any metaphysical or epis- 
temological theory, discloses that physical objects cannot be 
individual existential objects. In consequence, it is absurd to 
put them in opposition to the qualitatively individual objects 
of concrete experience. 

The vogue of the philosophy that identifies the object of 
knowledge as such with the reality of the subject-matter of 
experience makes it advisable to carry the discussion further. 
Physical science submits the things of ordinary experience to 
specifiable operations. The results are objects of thought stated 
in numbers, where the numbers in question permit inclusion 
within complex systems of equations and other mathematical 
functions. In the physical object everything is ignored but the 
relations expressed by these numbers. It is safe to assert that 
no physicist while at work ever thought of denying the full 
reality of the things of ordinary, coarse experience. He pays 
no attention to their qualities except as they are signs of opera- 
tions to be performed and of inferences to relations to be 
drawn. But in these capacities he has to admit their full reality 
on pain of having, logically, to deny reality to the conclusions 
of his operative inferences. He takes the instruments he em- 
ploys, including his own sensory-motor organs and measuring 
instruments, to be real in the ordinary sense of the word. If 


he denied the reality of these things as they are had in ordinary 
non-cognitive perceptual experience, the conclusions reached by 
them would be equally discredited. Moreover, the numbers 
which define his metric object are themselves results of noting 
interactions or connections among perceived things. It would 
be the height of absurdity to assert the reality of these rela- 
tions while denying the reality of the things between which 
they hold. If the latter are "subjective" what becomes of the 
former? Finally, observation is resorted to for verification. It 
is a strange world in which the conception of the real has to 
be corroborated by reference to that the reality of which is 
made dubious by the conception. To common sense these com- 
ments may seem wholly superfluous. But since common sense 
may also hold the doctrine from which flow the conclusions to 
which the critical comments are apposite, common sense should 
first ask whether it holds that knowledge is a disclosure of the 
antecedently real. If it entertains this belief, then the dismissal 
by science of the experienced object to a limbo of unreality, 
or subjectivity or the phenomenal whatever terms be used 
results logically from his own position. 

Our discussion involves a summary as well as some repeti- 
tion of points previously made. Its significance lies in the 
liberation which comes when knowing, in all its phases, condi- 
tions and organs is understood after the pattern provided by 
experimental inquiry, instead of upon the groundwork of ideas 
framed before such knowing had a systematic career opened 
to it. For according to the pattern set by the practice of know- 
ing, knowledge is the fruit of the undertakings that transform 
a problematic situation into a resolved one. Its procedure is 
public, a part and partner of the Nature in all which inter- 
actions exist. But experienced situations come about in two 
ways and are of two distinct types. Some take place with only 
a minimum of regulation, with little foresight, preparation and 
intent. Others occur because, in part, of the prior occurrence 
of intelligent action. Both kinds are had\ they are undergone, 


enjoyed or suffered. The first are not known; they are not 
understood; they are dispensations of fortune or providence. 
The second have, as they are experienced, meanings that 
present the funded outcome of operations that substitute 
definite continuity for experienced discontinuity and for the 
fragmentary quality due to isolation. Dream, insanity and 
fantasy are natural products, as "rear* as anything else in the 
world. The acts of intentional regulation which constitute 
thinking are also natural developments, and so are the ex- 
perienced things in which they eventuate. But the latter are 
resolutions of the problems set by objects experienced without 
intent and purpose ; hence they have a security and fullness of 
meaning the first lack. Nothing happens, as Aristotle and the 
scholastics said, without an end without a terminal effectua- 
tion. Every experienced object is, in some sense, such a closing 
and consummatory closing episode: alike the doubtful and 
secure, the trivial and significant, the true and mistaken, the 
confused and ordered. Only when the ends are closing 
termini of intelligent operations of thinking are they ends 
in the honorific sense. We always experience individual 
objects, but only the individual things which are fruits of 
intelligent action have in them intrinsic order and fullness of 

The conditions and processes of nature generate uncertainty 
and its risks as truly as nature affords security and means of 
insurance against perils. Nature is characterized by a constant 
mixture of the precarious and the stable. This mixture gives 
poignancy to existence. If existence were either completely 
necessary or completely contingent, there would be neither 
comedy nor tragedy in life, nor need of the will to live. The 
significance of morals and politics, of the arts both technical 
and fine, of religion and of science itself as inquiry and dis- 
covery, all have their source and meaning in the union in 
Nature of the settled and the unsettled, the stable and the 
hazardous. Apart from this union, there are no such things as 


"ends", either as consummations or as those ends-in-view we 
call purposes. There is only a block universe, either something 
ended and admitting of no change, or else a predestined march 
of events. There is no such thing as fulfilment where there is 
no risk of failure, and no defeat where there is no promise of 
possible achievement. 

Any philosophy that in its quest for certainty ignores the 
reality of the uncertain in the ongoing processes of nature 
denies the conditions out of which it arises. The attempt to 
include all that is doubtful within the fixed grasp of that 
which is theoretically certain is committed to insincerity and 
evasion, and in consequence will have the stigmata of internal 
contradiction. Every such philosophy is marked at some point 
by a division of its subject-matter into the truly real and the 
merely apparent, a subject and an object, a physical and a 
mental, an ideal and an actual, that have nothing to do with 
one another, save in some mode which is so mysterious as to 
create an insoluble problem. 

Action is the means by which a problematic situation is 
resolved. Such is the net outcome of the method of science. 
There is nothing extraordinary about this conclusion. Inter- 
action is a universal trait of natural existence. "Action" is the 
name given to one mode of this interaction, namely, that 
named from the standpoint of an organism. When interaction 
has for its consequence the settling of future conditions under 
which a life-process goes on, it is an "act". If it be admitted 
that knowing is something which occurs within nature, then it 
follows as a truism that knowing is an existential overt act. 
Only if the one who engages in knowing be outside of nature 
and behold it from some external locus can it be denied that 
knowing is an act which modifies what previously existed, and 
that its worth consists in the consequences of the modifica- 
tion. The spectator theory of knowing may, humanly speaking, 
have been inevitable when thought was viewed as an exercise 
of a "reason" independent of the body, which by means of 


purely logical operations attained truth. It is an anachronism 
now that we have the model of experimental procedure before 
us and are aware of the role of organic acts in all mental 

Our discussion has for the most part turned upon an analysis 
of knowledge. The theme, however, is the relation of know- 
ledge and action; the final import of the conclusions as to 
knowledge resides in the changed idea it enforces as to action. 
The distinction once made between theory and practice has 
meaning as a distinction between two kinds of action: blind 
and intelligent. Intelligence is a quality of some acts, those 
which are directed; and directed action is an achievement, not 
an original endowment. The history of human progress is the 
story of the transformation of acts which, like the interactions 
of inanimate things, take place unknowingly to actions qualified 
by understanding of what they are about ; from actions con- 
trolled by external conditions to actions having guidance 
through their intent: their insight into their own conse- 
quences. Instruction, information, knowledge, is the only way 
in which this property of intelligence comes to qualify acts 
originally blind. 

This conclusion is decisive for the significance of purpose 
and mechanism in nature. The doctrine that knowledge is 
ideally or in its office a disclosure of antecedent reality re- 
sulted, under the impact of the results of natural science, in 
relegating purpose to the purely subjective, to states of con- 
sciousness. An unsolved problem then developed out of the 
question as to how purposes could be efficacious in the world. 
Now intelligent action is purposive action; if it is a natural 
occurrence, coming into being under complex but specifiable 
conditions of organic and social interaction, then purpose like 
intelligence is within nature; it is a "category" having objective 
standing and validity. It has this status in a direct way through 
the place and operation of human art within the natural scene ; 
for distinctively human conduct can be interpreted and under- 


stood only in terms of purpose. Purpose is the dominant 
category of anything truly denominated history, whether in its 
enacting or in the writing of it, since action which is distinctively 
human is marked by intent. 

Indirectly, purpose is a legitimate and necessary idea in 
describing Nature itself in the large. For man is continuous 
with nature. As far as natural events culminate in the intelli- 
gent arts of mankind, nature itself has a history, a movement 
toward consequences. When for convenience of study nature 
is broken up into disconnected bits the parts of which are taken 
to have a relation to one another in isolation from other parts, 
the concept of purpose has no application. It is excluded by 
the very method of intellectual approach. Science is full of 
abstractions of this sort. For example, water is a combination 
of hydrogen and oxygen in definite proportions. This is a 
statement about "water" in general, not about the occurrence 
of any particular portion which takes place under conditions 
in which more than hydrogen and oxygen exist. Any indi- 
vidualized water is a phase of an indefinitely varied and 
extensive course of things. Generically, however, "water" is 
treated in relation to its defining constituents as if it were a 
complete universe in itself. As a statement of a relation that is 
stable amid a multitude of varying changes, each having its 
own individualized history, it is an instrument of control. 
When it is treated as if it provided a model for framing a 
general theory of nature, the result converts an instrument of 
control into a view of the world in which there is neither 
history nor purpose. 

Generalized facts, when they are taken to be individual 
events complete in themselves, lead to a picture of the uni- 
verse in which occurrences are exactly like one another. There 
is repetition but no development; mechanical production but 
no cumulative movement toward an integrated consequence. 
We take out of our logical package what we have put into it, 
and then convert what we draw out to be a literal descrip- 


tion of the actual world. Things lose their individuality and 
are "instances" of a general law. When, however, events are 
viewed in their connections, as it is surely the province of 
philosophy to view them, nature is seen to be marked by 
histories, some of which terminate in the existence of human 
beings and finally in their intelligent activities. This issue, 
as the consequence of a cumulative integration of complex 
interactions, is such as to give anterior processes a purposive 
meaning. Everything depends whether we take short-sections 
of the course of nature in isolation, or whether we take the 
course of events over a span of time sufficiently long to disclose 
the integration of a multitude of processes toward a single 
outcome. 1 

A machine is a striking instance of mechanism. It is an 
equally striking instance of something to be understood in 
terms of purpose, use or function. Nature has mechanism. This 
mechanism forms the content of the objects of physical science, 
for it fulfils the instrumental office to be performed by know- 
ledge. If the interactions and connections involved in natural 
occurrences were not sufficiently like one another, sufficiently 
constant and uniform, so that inference and prediction from 
one to another were possible, control and purpose would be 
non-existent. Since constant relations among changes are the 
subject-matter of scientific thought, that subject-matter is the 
mechanism of events. The net effect of modern inquiry makes 
it clear that these constancies, whether the larger ones termed 
laws or the lesser ones termed facts, are statistical in nature. 
They are the products of averaging large numbers of observed 
frequencies by means of a series of operations. They are not 
descriptions of the exact structure and behaviour of any 
individual thing, any more than the actuarial "law" of the 
frequency of deaths of persons having a certain age is an 

1 Purposive Universe, New York, 1926, by Edmund Noble, contains 
by far the best statement known to me of considerations of which a 
brief summary is given in this paragraph. 


account of the life of one of the persons included in the calcula- 
tion. Nature has a mechanism sufficiently constant to permit 
of calculation, inference and foresight. But only a philosophy 
which hypostatizes isolated results and results obtained for 
a purpose, only a substantiation of the function of being 
a tool, concludes that nature is a mechanism and only a 

It has long been recognized that some physical laws are 
statistical, instead of being reports of behaviour of individuals 
as such. Heisenberg's principle, together with the discovery 
that mass varies with velocity, mark the generalized conclu- 
sion that all physical laws are of this character. They are, as 
we have noted, predictions of the probability of an observable 
event. They mark the culmination of a qualified prediction of 
Maxwell's so remarkable as to be worth quoting in full. "The 
theory of atoms and void leads us to attach more importance 
to the doctrines of integral numbers and definite proportions; 
but, in applying dynamic principles to the motion of immense 
numbers of atoms, the limitation of our faculties forces us to 
abandon the attempt to express the exact history of each atom 
and to be content with estimating the average condition of a 
group of atoms large enough to be visible. This method of 
dealing with groups of atoms, which I might call the statistical 
method, and which in the present state of our knowledge is 
the only available method of studying the properties of real 
bodies, involves an abandonment of strict dynamical principles, 
and an adoption of the mathematical methods belonging to the 
theory of probability. It is probable that important results 
will be obtained by the application of this method, which is, 
as yet, little known and is not familiar to our minds. If the 
actual history of science had been different, and if the scientific 
doctrines most familiar to us had been those which must be 
expressed in this way, it is probable that we might have con- 
sidered the existence of a certain kind of contingency as a 
self-evident truth and treated the doctrine of philosophical 


necessity as a mere sophism." 1 That which Maxwell felt that 
he must look upon as a trait due to the "limitation of our 
faculties" turns out to be a trait of natural events themselves. 
No mechanically exact science of an individual is possible. An 
individual is a history unique in character. But constituents 
of an individual are known when they are regarded not as 
qualitative, but as statistical constants derived from a series of 

This fact has an obvious bearing on freedom in action. 
Contingency is a necessary although not, in mathematical 
phrase, a sufficient condition of freedom. In a world which was 
completely tight and exact in all its constituents, there would 
be no room for freedom. Contingency while it gives room for 
freedom does not fill that room. Freedom is an actuality when 
the recognition of relations, the stable element, is combined 
with the uncertain element, in the knowledge which makes 
foresight possible and secures intentional preparation for 
probable consequences. We are free in the degree in which we 
act knowing what we are about. The identification of freedom 
with "freedom of will" locates contingency in the wrong 
place. Contingency of will would mean that uncertainty was 
uncertainly dealt with; it would be a resort to chance for a 
decision. The business of "will" is to be resolute; that is, to 
resolve, under the guidance of thought, the indeterminateness 
of uncertain situations. Choice wavers and is brought to a 
head arbitrarily only when circumstances compel action and 
yet we have no intelligent clue as to how to act. 

The doctrine of "free-will" is a desperate attempt to escape 
from the consequences of the doctrine of fixed and immutable 
objective Being. With dissipation of that dogma, the need for 
such a measure of desperation vanishes. Preferential activities 
characterize every individual as individual or unique. In them- 
selves these are differential in a de facto sense. They become 

1 J. C. Maxwell, Scientific Papers, vol. II, p. 253. 1 am indebted to 
Dr. Charles Hartshorne for this reference. 


true choices under the direction of insight. Knowledge, instead 
of revealing a world in which preference is an illusion and 
does not count or make a difference, puts in our possession 
the instrumentality by means of which preference may be an 
intelligent or intentional factor in constructing a future by 
wary and prepared action. Knowledge of special conditions 
and relations is instrumental to the action, which is in turn 
an instrument of production of situations having qualities of 
added significance and order. To be capable of such action is 
to be free. 

Physical inquiry has been taken as typical of the nature of 
knowing. The selection is justified because the operations of 
physical knowledge are so perfected and its scheme of symbols 
so well devised. But it would be misinterpreted if it were taken 
to mean that science is the only valid kind of knowledge ; it is 
just an intensified form of knowing in which are written large 
the essential characters of any knowing. It is in addition the 
most powerful tool we possess for developing other modes 
of knowledge. But we know with respect to any subject- 
matter whatsoever in the degree in which we are able de- 
liberately to transform doubtful situations into resolved 
ones. Physical knowledge has the advantage of its specialized 
character, its whole-hearted devotion to a single purpose. The 
attitude involved in it, its method, has not as yet gone far 
beyond its own precincts. Beliefs current in morals, politics 
and religion are marked by dread of change and by the feeling 
that order and regulative authority can be had only through 
reference to fixed standards accepted as finalities, because 
referring to fixed antecedent realities. Outside of physical 
inquiry, we shy from problems ; we dislike uncovering serious 
difficulties in their full depth and reach ; we prefer to accept 
what is and muddle along. Hence our social and moral 
"sciences" consist largely in putting facts as they are into 
conceptual systems framed at large. Our logic in social and 
humane subjects is still largely that of definition and classifi- 


cation as until the seventeenth century it was in natural science. 
For the most part the lesson of experimental inquiry has still 
to be learned in the things of chief concern. 

We are, socially, in a condition of division and confusion 
because our best authenticated knowledge is obtained by 
directed practice, while this method is still limited to things 
aloof from man or concerning him only in the technologies of 
industries. The rest of our practice in matters that come home 
to us most closely and deeply is regulated not by intelligent 
operations, but by tradition, self-interest and accidental cir- 
cumstance. The most significant phase of physical science, 
that which concerns its method, is unapplied in social practice, 
while its technical results are utilized by those in positions of 
privileged advantage to serve their own private or class ends. 
Of the many consequences that result, the state of education 
is perhaps the most significant. As the means of the general 
institution of intelligent action, it holds the key to orderly 
social reconstruction. But inculcation of fixed conclusions rather 
than development of intelligence as a method of action still 
dominates its processes. Devotion to training in technical and 
mechanical skills on one hand and to laying in a store of 
abstract information on the other is to one who has the power 
to read the scene an almost perfect illustration of the signifi- 
cance of the historic separation of knowledge and action, theory 
and practice. As long as the isolation of knowledge and practice 
holds sway, this division of aims and dissipation of energy, 
of which the state of education is typical, will persist. The 
effective condition of the integration of all divided purposes 
and conflicts of belief is the realization that intelligent action 
is the sole ultimate resource of mankind in every field what- 

It is not claimed, therefore, that there is no philosophical 
problem of the relation of physical science to the things of 
ordinary experience. It is asserted that the problem in the form 
in which it has chiefly occupied modern philosophy is an 


artificial one, due to the continued assumption of premises 
formed in an earlier period of history and now having no 
relevancy to the state of physical inquiry. Clearing the ground 
of this unreal problem, however, only imposes upon philosophy 
the consideration of a problem which is urgently practical, 
growing out of the conditions of contemporary life. What 
revisions and surrenders of current beliefs about authoritative 
ends and values are demanded by the method and conclusions 
of natural science? What possibilities of controlled transfor- 
mation of the content of present belief and practice in human 
institutions and associations are indicated by the control of 
natural energies which natural science has effected? These 
questions are as genuine and imperative as the traditional 
problem is artificial and futile. 



WE SAW at the outset of our discussion that insecurity gener- 
ates the quest for certainty. Consequences issue from every 
experience, and they are the source of our interest in what is 
present. Absence of arts of regulation diverted the search for 
security into irrelevant modes of practice, into rite and cult; 
thought was devoted to discovery of omens rather than of 
signs of what is to occur. Gradually there was differentiation 
of two realms, one higher, consisting of the powers which 
determine human destiny in all important affairs. With this 
religion was concerned. The other consisted of the prosaic 
matters in which man relied upon his own skill and his matter- 
of-fact insight. Philosophy inherited the idea of this division. 
Meanwhile in Greece many of the arts had attained a state 
of development which raised them above a merely routine 
state ; there were intimations of measure, order and regularity 
in materials dealt with which give intimations of underlying 
rationality. Because of the growth of mathematics, there arose 
also the ideal of a purely rational knowledge, intrinsically 
solid and worthy and the means by which the intimations of 
rationality within changing phenomena could be compre- 
hended within science. For the intellectual class the stay and 
consolation, the warrant of certainty, provided by religion was 
henceforth found in intellectual demonstration of the reality 
of the objects of an ideal realm. 

With the expansion of Christianity, ethico-religious traits 
came to dominate the purely rational ones. The ultimate 
authoritative standards for regulation of the dispositions and 
purposes of the human will were fused with those which satis- 
fied the demands for necessary and universal truth. The 
authority of ultimate Being was, moreover, represented on earth 
by the Church; that which in its nature transcended intellect 


was made known by a revelation of which the Church was the 
interpreter and guardian. The system endured for centuries. 
While it endured, it provided an integration of belief and 
conduct for the western world. Unity of thought and practice 
extended down to every detail of the management of life; 
efficacy of its operation did not depend upon thought. It was 
guaranteed by the most powerful and authoritative of all 
social institutions. 

Its seemingly solid foundation was, however, undermined 
by the conclusions of modern science. They effected, both in 
themselves and even more in the new interests and activities 
they generated, a breach between what man is concerned with 
here and now and the faith concerning ultimate reality which, 
in determining his ultimate and eternal destiny, had previously 
given regulation to his present life. The problem of restoring 
integration and co-operation between man's beliefs about the 
world in which he lives and his beliefs about the values and 
purposes that should direct his conduct is the deepest problem 
of modern life. It is the problem of any philosophy that is not 
isolated from that life. 

The attention which has been given to the fact that in its 
experimental procedure science has surrendered the separation 
between knowing and doing has its source in the fact that 
there is now provided within a limited, specialized and techni- 
cal field the possibility and earnest, as far as theory is con- 
cerned, of effecting the needed integration in the wider field 
of collective human experience. Philosophy is called upon to 
be the theory of the practice, through ideas sufficiently definite 
to be operative in experimental endeavour, by which the inte- 
gration may be made secure in actual experience. Its central 
problem is the relation that exists between the beliefs about 
the nature of things due to natural science to beliefs about 
values using that word to designate whatever is taken to 
have rightful authority in the direction of conduct. A philo- 
sophy which should take up this problem is struck first of all 


by the fact that beliefs about values are pretty much in the 
position in which beliefs about nature were before the scientific 
revolution. There is either a basic distrust of the capacity of 
experience to develop its own regulative standards, and an 
appeal to what philosophers call eternal values, in order to 
ensure regulation of belief and action; or there is acceptance 
of enjoyments actually experienced irrespective of the method 
or operation by which they are brought into existence. Com- 
plete bifurcation between rationalistic method and an empirical 
method has its final and most deeply human significance in 
the ways in which good and bad are thought of and acted for 
and upon. 

As far as technical philosophy reflects this situation, there 
is division of theories of values into two kinds. On the one 
hand, goods and evils, in every region of life, as they are con- 
cretely experienced, are regarded as characteristic of an inferior 
order of Being intrinsically inferior. Just because they are 
things of human experience, their worth must be estimated by 
reference to standards and ideals derived from ultimate reality. 
Their defects and perversion are attributed to the same fact; 
they are to be corrected and controlled through adoption of 
methods of conduct derived from loyalty to the requirements 
of Supreme Being. This philosophic formulation gets actuality 
and force from the fact that it is a rendering of the beliefs 
of men in general as far as they have come under the influ- 
ence of institutional religion. Just as rational conceptions were 
once superimposed upon observed and temporal phenomena, 
so eternal values are superimposed upon experienced goods. 
In one case as in the other, the alternative is supposed to be 
confusion and lawlessness. Philosophers suppose these eternal 
values are known by reason ; the mass of persons that they are 
divinely revealed. 

Nevertheless, with the expansion of secular interests, tem- 
poral values have enormously multiplied; they absorb more 
and more attention and energy. The sense of transcendent 


values has become enfeebled ; instead of permeating all things 
in life, it is more and more restricted to special times and acts. 
The authority of the Church to declare and impose divine will 
and purpose has narrowed. Whatever men say and profess, 
their tendency in the presence of actual evils is to resort to 
natural and empirical means to remedy them. But in formal 
belief, the old doctrine of the inherently disturbed and un- 
worthy character of the goods and standards of ordinary 
experience persists. This divergence between what men do 
and what they nominally profess is closely connected with the 
confusions and conflicts of modern thought. 

It is not meant to assert that no attempts have been made 
to replace the older theory regarding the authority of immut- 
able and transcendent values by conceptions more congruous 
with the practices of daily life. The contrary is the case. The 
utilitarian theory, to take one instance, has had great power. 
The idealistic school is the only one in contemporary philoso- 
phies, with the exception of one form of neo-realism, that 
makes much of the notion of a reality which is all one with 
ultimate moral and religious values. But this school is also 
the one most concerned with the conservation of "spiritual" 
life. Equally significant is the fact that empirical theories 
retain the notion that thought and judgment are concerned 
with values that are experienced independently of them. For 
these theories, emotional satisfactions occupy the same place 
that sensations hold in traditional empiricism. Values are 
constituted by liking and enjoyment; to be enjoyed and to be 
a value are two names for one and the same fact. Since science 
has extruded values from its objects, these empirical theories 
do everything possible to emphasize their purely subjective 
character of value. A psychological theory of desire and liking 
is supposed to cover the whole ground of the theory of values ; 
in it, immediate feeling is the counterpart of immediate 

I shall not object to this empirical theory as far as it connects 


the theory of values with concrete experiences of desire and 
satisfaction. The idea that there is such a connection is the 
only way known to me by which the pallid remoteness of 
the rationalistic theory, and the only too glaring presence of the 
institutional theory of transcendental values can be escaped. 
The objection is that the theory in question holds down value 
to objects antecedently enjoyed, apart from reference to the 
method by which they come into existence ; it takes enjoyments 
which are causal because unregulated by intelligent opera- 
tions to be values in and of themselves. Operational thinking 
needs to be applied to the judgment of values just as it has 
now finally been applied in conceptions of physical objects. 
Experimental empiricism in the field of ideas of good and bad 
is demanded to meet the conditions of the present situation. 

The scientific revolution came about when material of 
direct and uncontrolled experience was taken as problematic; 
as supplying material to be transformed by reflective operations 
into known objects. The contrast between experienced and 
known objects was found to be a temporal one; namely, one 
between empirical subject-matters which were had or "given 
prior to the acts of experimental variation and redisposition 
and those which succeeded these acts and issued from them. 
The notion of an act whether of sense or thought which sup- 
plied a valid measure of thought in immediate knowledge was 
discredited. Consequences of operations became the important 
thing. The suggestion almost imperatively follows that escape 
from the defects of transcendental absolutism is not to be 
had by setting up as values enjoyments that happen anyhow, 
but in defining value by enjoyments which are the conse- 
quences of intelligent action. Without the intervention of 
thought, enjoyments are not values but problematic goods, 
becoming values when they re-issue in a changed form from 
intelligent behaviour. The fundamental trouble with the 
current empirical theory of values is that it merely formulates 
and justifies the socially prevailing habit of regarding enjoy* 


ments as they are actually experienced as values in and of 
themselves. It completely side-steps the question of regulation 
of these enjoyments. This issue involves nothing less than the 
problem of the directed reconstruction of economic, political 
and religious institutions. 

There was seemingly a paradox involved in the notion that 
if we turned our backs upon the immediately perceived quali- 
ties of things, we should be enabled to form valid conceptions 
of objects, and that these conceptions could be used to bring 
about a more secure and more significant experience of them. 
But the method terminated in disclosing the connections or 
interactions upon which perceived objects, viewed as events, 
depend. Formal analogy suggests that we regard our direct and 
original experience of things liked and enjoyed as only possi- 
bilities of values to be achieved; that enjoyment becomes a 
value when we discover the relations upon which its presence 
depends. Such a causal and operational definition gives only a 
conception of a value, not a value itself. But the utilization 
of the conception in action results in an object having secure 
and significant value. 

The formal statement may be given concrete content by 
pointing to the difference between the enjoyed and the en- 
joyable, the desired and the desirable, the satisfying and the 
satisfactory. To say that something is enjoyed is to make a 
statement about a fact, something already in existence; it is 
not to judge the value of that fact. There is no difference 
between such a proposition and one which says that something 
is sweet or sour, red or black. It is just correct or incorrect 
and that is the end of the matter. But to call an object a value 
is to assert that it satisfies or fulfils certain conditions. Func- 
tion and status in meeting conditions is a different matter from 
bare existence. The fact that something is desired only raises 
the question of its desirability; it does not settle it. Only a 
child in the degree of his immaturity thinks to settle the ques- 
tion of desirability by reiterated proclamation: "I want it, I 


want it, I want it." What is objected to in the current empirical 
theory of values is not connection of them with desire and 
enjoyment, but failure to distinguish between enjoyments of 
radically different sorts. There are many common expressions 
in which the difference of the two kinds is clearly recog- 
nized. Take for example the difference between the ideas of 
"satisfying" and "satisfactory". To say that something satisfies 
is to report something as an isolated finality. To assert that 
it is satisfactory is to define it in its connections and interac- 
tions. The fact that it pleases or is immediately congenial poses 
a problem to judgment. How shall the satisfaction be rated? 
Is it a value or is it not? Is it something to be prized and 
cherished, to be enjoyed? Not stern moralists alone but every- 
day experience informs us that finding satisfaction in a thing 
may be a warning, a summons to be on the lookout for conse- 
quences. To declare something satisfactory is to assert that it 
meets specifiable conditions. It is, in effect, a judgment that the 
thing "will do". It involves a prediction; it contemplates a 
future in which the thing will continue to serve; it will do. It 
asserts a consequence the thing will actively institute; it will 
do. That it is satisfying is the content of a proposition of fact; 
that it is satisfactory is a judgment, an estimate, an appraisal. 
It denotes an attitude to be taken, that of striving to perpetuate 
and to make secure. 

It is worth notice that besides the instances given, there are 
many other recognitions in ordinary speech of the distinction. 
The endings "able", "worthy" and "ful" are cases in point. 
Noted and notable, noteworthy; remarked and remarkable; 
advised and advisable; wondered at and wonderful; pleasing 
and beautiful; loved and lovable; blamed and blameable, 
blameworthy; objected to and objectionable; esteemed and 
estimable; admired and admirable; shamed and shameful; 
honoured and honourable ; approved and approvable ; worthy of 
approbation, etc. The multiplication of words adds nothing 
to the force of the distinction. But it aids in conveying a sense 


of the fundamental character of the distinction; of the differ- 
ence between mere report of an already existent fact and 
judgment as to the importance and need of bringing a fact into 
existence; or, if it is already there, of sustaining it in existence. 
The latter is a genuine practical judgment, and marks the only 
type of judgment that has to do with the direction of action. 
Whether or no we reserve the term "value" for the latter 
(as seems to me proper) is a minor matter ; that the distinction 
be acknowledged as the key to understanding the relation of 
values to the direction of conduct is the important thing. 

This element of direction by an idea of value applies to 
science as well as anywhere else. For in every scientific under- 
taking there is passed a constant succession of estimates ; such 
as "it is worth treating these facts as data or evidence; it is 
advisable to try this experiment; to make that observation; 
to entertain such and such a hypothesis; to perform this 
calculation", etc. 

The word "taste" has perhaps got too completely asso- 
ciated with arbitrary liking to express the nature of judgments 
of value. But if the word be used in the sense of an appre- 
ciation at once cultivated and active, one may say that the 
formation of taste is the chief matter wherever values enter in, 
whether intellectual, aesthetic or moral. Relatively immediate 
judgments, which we call tact or to which we give the name 
of intuition, do not precede reflective inquiry, but are the 
funded products of much thoughtful experience. Expertness 
of taste is at once the result and the reward of constant exer- 
cise of thinking. Instead of there being no disputing about 
tastes, they are the one thing worth disputing about, if by 
"dispute" is signified discussion involving reflective inquiry. 
Taste, if we use the word in its best sense, is the outcome of 
experience brought cumulatively to bear on the intelligent 
appreciation of the real worth of likings and enjoyments. There 
is nothing in which a person so completely reveals himself as 
in the things which he judges enjoyable and desirable, Such 


judgments are the sole alternative to the domination of belief 
by impulse, chance, blind habit and self-interest. The forma- 
tion of a cultivated and effectively operative good judgment 
or taste with respect to what is aesthetically admirable, intel- 
lectually acceptable and morally approvable is the supreme 
task set to human beings by the incidents of experience. 

Propositions about what is or has been liked are of instru- 
mental value in reaching judgments of value, in as far as the 
conditions and consequences of the thing liked are thought 
about. In themselves they make no claims; they put forth no 
demand upon subsequent attitudes and acts; they profess no 
authority to direct. If one likes a thing he likes it; that is a 
point about which there can be no dispute: although it is 
not so easy to state just what is liked as is frequently assumed. 
A judgment about what is to be desired and enjoyed is, on the 
other hand, a claim on future action; it possesses de jure and 
not merely de facto quality. It is a matter of frequent experi- 
ence that likings and enjoyments are of all kinds, and that 
many are such as reflective judgments condemn. By way of 
self-justification and "rationalization", an enjoyment creates a 
tendency to assert that the thing enjoyed is a value. This 
assertion of validity adds authority to the fact. It is a decision 
that the object has a right to exist and hence a claim upon 
action to further its existence. 

The analogy between the status of the theory of values 
and the theory of ideas about natural objects before the rise 
of experimental inquiry may be carried further. The sensa- 
tionalistic theory of the origin and test of thought evoked, by 
way of reaction, the transcendental theory of a priori ideas. 
For it failed utterly to account for objective connection, order 
and regularity in objects observed. Similarly, any doctrine 
that identifies the mere fact of being liked with the value of 
the object liked so fails to give direction to conduct when 
direction is needed that it automatically calls forth the asser- 
tion that there are values eternally in Being that are the 


standards of all judgments and the obligatory ends of all 
action. Without the introduction of operational thinking, we 
oscillate between a theory that, in order to save the objectivity 
of judgments of values, isolates them from experience and 
nature, and a theory that, in order to save their concrete and 
human significance, reduces them to mere statements about 
our own feelings. 

Not even the most devoted adherents of the notion that 
enjoyment and value are equivalent facts would venture to 
assert that because we have once liked a thing we should go on 
liking it; they are compelled to introduce the idea that some 
tastes are to be cultivated. Logically, there is no ground for 
introducing the idea of cultivation; liking is liking, and one 
is as good as another. If enjoyments are value, the judg- 
ment of value cannot regulate the form which liking takes; 
it cannot regulate its own conditions. Desire and purpose, and 
hence action, are left without guidance, although the question 
of regulation of their formation is the supreme problem of 
practical life. Values (to sum up) may be connected inher- 
ently with liking, and yet not with every liking but only with 
those that judgment has approved, after examination of the 
relation upon which the object liked depends. A casual liking 
is one that happens without knowledge of how it occurs nor to 
what effect. The difference between it and one which is sought 
because of a judgment that it is worth having and is to be 
striven for, makes just the difference between enjoyments 
which are accidental and enjoyments that have value and hence 
a claim upon our attitude and conduct. 

In any case, the alternative rationalistic theory does not 
afford the guidance for the sake of which eternal and immut- 
able norms are appealed to. The scientist finds no help in 
determining the probable truth of some proposed theory by 
comparing it with a standard of absolute truth and immutable 
being. He has to rely upon definite operations undertaken under 
definite conditions upon method. We can hardly imagine 


an architect getting aid in the construction of a building 
from an ideal at large, though we can understand his framing 
an ideal on the basis of knowledge of actual conditions and 
needs. Nor does the ideal of perfect beauty in antecedent 
Being give direction to a painter in producing a particular work 
of art. In morals, absolute perfection does not seem to be 
more than a generalized hypostatization of the recognition that 
there is a good to be sought, an obligation to be met both 
being concrete matters. Nor is the defect in this respect merely 
negative. An examination of history would reveal, I am con- 
fident, that these general and remote schemes of value actually 
obtain a content definite enough and near enough to concrete 
situations as to afford guidance in action only by consecrating 
some institution or dogma already having social currency. 
Concreteness is gained, but it is by protecting from inquiry 
some accepted standard which perhaps is outworn and in need 
of criticism. 

When theories of values do not afford intellectual assistance 
in framing ideas and beliefs about values that are adequate to 
direct action, the gap must be filled by other means. If intel- 
ligent method is lacking, prejudice, the pressure of immediate 
circumstance, self-interest, and class-interest, traditional cus- 
toms, institutions of accidental historic origin, are not lacking, 
and they tend to take the place of intelligence. Thus we are 
led to our main proposition: Judgments about values are 
judgments about the conditions and the results of experienced 
objects; judgments about that which should regulate the forma- 
tion of our desires, affections and enjoyments. For whatever 
decides their formation will determine the main course of our 
conduct, personal and social. 

If it sounds strange to hear that we should frame our 
judgments as to what has value by considering the connections 
in existence of what we like and enjoy, the reply is not far 
to seek. As long as we do not engage in this inquiry enjoyments 
(values if we choose to apply that term) are casual; they are 


given by "nature", not constructed by art. Like natural 
objects in their qualitative existence, they at most only supply 
material for elaboration in rational discourse. A feeling of 
good or excellence is as far removed from goodness in fact 
as a feeling that objects are intellectually thus and so is 
removed from their being actually so. To recognize that the 
truth of natural objects can be reached only by the greatest 
care in selecting and arranging directed operations, and then 
to suppose that values can be truly determined by the mere 
fact of liking seems to leave us in an incredible position. All 
the serious perplexities of life come back to the genuine 
difficulty of forming a judgment as to the values of the situa- 
tion; they come back to a conflict of goods. Only dogmatism 
can suppose that serious moral conflict is between something 
clearly bad and something known to be good, and that un- 
certainty lies wholly in the will of the one choosing. Most 
conflicts of importance are conflicts between things which are 
or have been satisfying, not between good and evil. And to 
suppose that we can make a hierarchical table of values at 
large once for all, a kind of catalogue in which they are 
arranged in an order of ascending or descending worth, is to 
indulge in a gloss on our inability to frame intelligent judgments 
in the concrete. Or else it is to dignify customary choice and 
prejudice by a title of honour. 

The alternative to definition, classification and systematiza- 
tion of satisfactions just as they happen to occur is judgment 
of them by means of the relations under which they occur. 
If we know the conditions under which the act of liking, of 
desire and enjoyment, takes place, we are in a position to 
know what are the consequences of that act. The difference 
between the desired and the desirable, admired and the ad- 
mirable, becomes effective at just this point. Consider the 
difference between the proposition "That thing has been 
eaten", and the judgment "That thing is edible". The former 
statement involves no knowledge of any relation except the 


one stated; while we are able to judge of the edibility of 
anything only when we have a knowledge of its interactions 
with other things sufficient to enable us to foresee its probable 
effects when it is taken into the organism and produces effects 

To assume that anything can be known in isolation from 
its connections with other things is to identify knowing with 
merely having some object before perception or in feeling, 
and is thus to lose the key to the traits that distinguish an 
object as known. It is futile, even silly, to suppose that some 
quality that is directly present constitutes the whole of the 
thing presenting the quality. It does not do so when the quality 
is that of being hot or fluid or heavy, and it does not when 
the quality is that of giving pleasure, or being enjoyed. Such 
qualities are, once more, effects, ends in the sense of closing 
termini of processes involving causal connections. They are 
something to be investigated, challenges to inquiry and judg- 
ment. The more connections and interactions we ascertain, 
the more we know the object in question. Thinking is search 
for these connections. Heat experienced as a consequence of 
directed operations has a meaning quite different from the heat 
that is casually experienced without knowledge of how it came 
about. The same is true of enjoyments. Enjoyments that issue 
from conduct directed by insight into relations have a meaning 
and a validity due to the way in which they are experienced. 
Such enjoyments are not repented of: they generate no after- 
taste of bitterness. Even in the midst of direct enjoyment, 
there is a sense of validity, of authorization, which intensifies 
the enjoyment. There is solicitude for perpetuation of the 
object having value which is radically different from mere 
anxiety to perpetuate the feeling of enjoyment. 

Such statements as we have been making are, therefore, 
far from implying that there are values apart from things 
actually enjoyed as good. To find a thing enjoyable is, so to 
say, a plus enjoyment. We saw that it was foolish to treat 


the scientific object as a rival to or substitute for the perceived 
object, since the former is intermediate between uncertain 
and settled situations and those experienced under conditions 
of greater control. In the same way, judgment of the value of 
an object to be experienced is instrumental to appreciation 
of it when it is realized. But the notion that every object that 
happens to satisfy has an equal claim with every other to be 
a value is like supposing that every object of perception has 
the same cognitive force as every other. There is no knowledge 
without perception; but objects perceived are known only 
when they are determined as consequences of connective 
operations. There is no value except where there is satisfac- 
tion, but there have to be certain conditions fulfilled to trans- 
form a satisfaction into a value. 

The time will come when it will be found passing strange 
that we of this age should take such pains to control by every 
means at command the formation of ideas of physical things, 
even those most remote from human concern, and yet are 
content with haphazard beliefs about the qualities of objects 
that regulate our deepest interests ; that we are scrupulous as 
to methods of forming ideas of natural objects, and either 
dogmatic or else driven by immediate conditions in framing 
those about values. There is, by implication, if not explicitly, 
a prevalent notion that values are already well known and that 
all which is lacking is the will to cultivate them in the order 
of their worth. In fact, the most profound lack is not the will 
to act upon goods already known but the will to know what 
they are. 

It is not a dream that it is possible to exercise some degree 
of regulation of the occurrence of enjoyments which are of 
value. Realization of the possibility is exemplified, for example, 
in the technologies and arts of industrial life that is, up 
to a definite limit. Men desired heat, light, and speed of 
transit and of communication beyond what nature provides 
of itself. These things have been attained not by lauding the 


enjoyment of these things and preaching their desirability, but 
by study of the conditions of their manifestation. Knowledge 
of relations having been obtained, ability to produce followed, 
and enjoyment ensued as a matter of course. It is, however, an 
old story that enjoyment of these things as goods is no warrant 
of their bringing only good in their train. As Plato was given 
to pointing out, the physician may know to heal and the 
orator to persuade, but the ulterior knowledge of whether 
it is better for a man to be healed or to be persuaded to the 
orator's opinion remains unsettled. Here there appears the 
split between what are traditionally and conventionally called 
the values of the baser arts and the higher values of the truly 
personal and humane arts. 

With respect to the former, there is no assumption that 
they can be had and enjoyed without definite operative know- 
ledge. With respect to them it is also clear that the degree in 
which we value them is measurable by the pains taken to 
control the conditions of their occurrence. With respect to the 
latter, it is assumed that no one who is honest can be in doubt 
what they are; that by revelation, or conscience, or the instruc- 
tion of others, or immediate feeling, they are clear beyond 
question. And instead of action in their behalf being taken 
to be a measure of the extent in which things are values to 
us, it is assumed that the difficulty is to persuade men to 
act upon what they already know to be good. Knowledge of 
conditions and consequences is regarded as wholly indifferent 
to judging what is of serious value, though it is useful in a 
prudential way in trying to actualize it. In consequence, the 
existence of values that are by common consent of a secondary 
and technical sort is under a fair degree of control, while 
those denominated supreme and imperative are subject to all 
the winds of impulse, custom and arbitrary authority. 

This distinction between higher and lower types of value 
is itself something to be looked into. Why should there be 
a sharp division made between some goods as physical and 


material and others as ideal and "spiritual"? The question 
touches the whole dualism of the material and the ideal at its 
root. To denominate anything "matter" or "material" is not in 
truth to disparage it. It is, if the designation is correctly 
applied, a way of indicating that the thing in question is a 
condition or means of the existence of something else. And 
disparagement of effective means is practically synonymous 
with disregard of the things that are termed, in eulogistic 
fashion, ideal and spiritual. For the latter terms if they have 
any concrete application at all signify something which is a 
desirable consummation of conditions, a cherished fulfilment 
of means. The sharp separation between material and ideal 
good thus deprives the latter of the underpinning of effective 
support while it opens the way for treating things which should 
be employed as means as ends in themselves. For since men 
cannot after all live without some measure of possession of such 
matters as health and wealth, the latter things will be viewed as 
values and ends in isolation unless they are treated as integral 
constituents of the goods that are deemed supreme and final. 

The relations that determine the occurrence of what human 
beings experience, especially when social connections are 
taken into account, are indefinitely wider and more complex 
than those that determine the events termed physical; the 
latter are the outcome of definite selective operations. This is 
the reason why we know something about remote objects like 
the stars better than we know significantly characteristic things 
about our own bodies and minds. We forget the infinite 
number of things we do not know about the stars, or rather that 
what we call a star is itself the product of the elimination, 
enforced and deliberate, of most of the traits that belong to an 
actual existence. The amount of knowledge we possess about 
stars would not seem very great or very important if it were 
carried over to human beings and exhausted our knowledge 
of them. It is inevitable that genuine knowledge of man and 
society should lag far behind physical knowledge. 



But this difference is not a ground for making a sharp 
division between the two, nor does it account for the fact that 
we make so little use of the experimental method of forming 
our ideas and beliefs about the concerns of man in his charac- 
teristic social relations. For this separation religions and 
philosophies must admit some responsibility. They have 
erected a distinction between a narrower scope of relations and 
a wider and fuller one into a difference of kind, naming one 
kind material, and the other mental and moral. They have 
charged themselves gratuitously with the office of diffusing 
belief in the necessity of the division, and with instilling con- 
tempt for the material as something inferior in kind in its 
intrinsic nature and worth. Formal philosophies undergo 
evaporation of their technical solid contents ; in a thinner and 
more viable form they find their way into the minds of those 
who know nothing of their original forms. When these diffuse 
and, so to say, airy emanations re-crystallize in the popular 
mind they form a hard deposit of opinion that alters slowly 
and with great difficulty. 

What difference would it actually make in the arts of conduct, 
personal and social, if the experimental theory were adopted 
not as a mere theory, but as a part of the working equipment 
of habitual attitudes on the part of everyone? It would be 
impossible, even were time given, to answer the question in 
adequate detail, just as men could not foretell in advance the 
consequences for knowledge of adopting the experimental 
method. It is the nature of the method that it has to be tried. 
But there are generic lines of difference which, within the 
limits of time at disposal, may be sketched. 

Change from forming ideas and judgments of value on 
the basis of conformity to antecedent objects, to constructing 
enjoyable objects directed by knowledge of consequences, is 
a change from looking to the past to looking to the future. 
I do not for a moment suppose that the experiences of the 
past, personal and social, are of no importance. For without 


them we should not be able to frame any ideas whatever of 
the conditions under which objects are enjoyed nor any 
estimate of the consequences of esteeming and liking them. 
But past experiences are significant in giving us intellectual 
instrumentalities of judging just these points. They are tools, 
not finalities. Reflection upon what we have liked and have 
enjoyed is a necessity. But it tells us nothing about the 
value of these things until enjoyments are themselves re- 
flectively controlled, or until, as they are now recalled, we 
form the best judgment possible about what led us to like 
this sort of thing and what has issued from the fact that we 
liked it. 

We are not, then, to get away from enjoyments experienced 
in the past and from recall of them, but from the notion that 
they are the arbiters of things to be further enjoyed. At present 
the arbiter is found in the past, although there are many 
ways of interpreting what in the past is authoritative. Nomin- 
ally, the most influential conception doubtless is that of a 
revelation once had or a perfect life once lived. Reliance 
upon precedent, upon institutions created in the past, especially 
in law, upon rules of morals that have come to us through 
unexamined customs, upon uncriticized tradition, are other 
forms of dependence. It is not for a moment suggested that 
we can get away from customs and established institutions. 
A mere break would doubtless result simply in chaos. But 
there is no danger of such a break. Mankind is too inertly 
conservative both by constitution and by education to give the 
idea of this danger actuality. What there is genuine danger of is 
that the force of new conditions will produce disruption exter- 
nally and mechanically: this is an ever-present danger. The 
prospect is increased, not mitigated, by that conservatism 
which insists upon the adequacy of old standards to meet new 
conditions. What is needed is intelligent examination of the 
consequences that are actually effected by inherited institutions 
and customs, in order that there may be intelligent considera- 


tion of the ways in which they are to be intentionally modified 
in behalf of generation of different consequences. 

This is the significant meaning of transfer of experimental 
method from the technical field of physical experience to the 
wider field of human life. We trust the method in forming 
our beliefs about things not directly connected with human 
life. In effect, we distrust it in moral, political and economic 
affairs. In the fine arts, there are many signs of a change. In 
the past, such a change has often been an omen and precursor 
of changes in other human attitudes. But, generally speaking, 
the idea of actively adopting experimental method in social 
affairs, in the matters deemed of most enduring and ultimate 
worth, strikes most persons as a surrender of all standards 
and regulative authority. But in principle, experimental method 
does not signify random and aimless action ; it implies direction 
by ideas and knowledge. The question at issue is a practical 
one. Are there in existence the ideas and the knowledge that 
permit experimental method to be effectively used in social 
interests and affairs ? 

Where will regulation come from if we surrender familiar 
and traditionally prized values as our directive standards? 
Very largely from the findings of the natural sciences. For 
one of the effects of the separation drawn between knowledge 
and action is to deprive scientific knowledge of its proper 
service as a guide of conduct except once more in those 
technological fields which have been degraded to an inferior 
rank. Of course, the complexity of the conditions upon which 
objects of human and liberal value depend is a great obstacle, 
and it would be too optimistic to say that we have as yet 
enough knowledge of the scientific type to enable us to regulate 
our judgments of value very extensively. But we have more 
knowledge than we try to put to use, and until we try more 
systematically we shall not know what are the important gaps 
in our sciences judged from the point of view of their moral 
and humane use. 


For moralists usually draw a sharp line between the field 
of the natural sciences and the conduct that is regarded as 
moral. But a moral that frames its judgments of value on the 
basis of consequences must depend in a most intimate manner 
upon the conclusions of science. For the knowledge of the 
relations between changes which enable us to connect things 
as antecedents and consequences is science. The narrow scope 
which moralists often give to morals, their isolation of some 
conduct as virtuous and vicious from other large ranges of 
conduct, those having to do with health and vigour, business, 
education, with all the affairs in which desires and affection 
are implicated, is perpetuated by this habit of exclusion of the 
subject-matter of natural science from a role in formation of 
moral standards and ideals. The same attitude operates in the 
other direction to keep natural science a technical specialty, 
and it works unconsciously to encourage its use exclusively in 
regions where it can be turned to personal and class advantage, 
as in war and trade. 

Another great difference to be made by carrying the experi- 
mental habit into all matter of practice is that it cuts the 
roots of what is often called subjectivism, but which is better 
termed egoism. The subjective attitude is much more wide- 
spread than would be inferred from the philosophies which 
have that label attached. It is as rampant in realistic philoso- 
phies as in any others, sometimes even more so, although 
disguised from those who hold these philosophies under the 
cover of reverence of and enjoyment of ultimate values. For 
the implication of placing the standard of thought and know- 
ledge in antecedent existence is that our thought makes no 
difference in what is significantly real. It then affects only our 
own attitude toward it. 

This constant throwing of emphasis back upon a change 
made in ourselves instead of one made in the world in which 
we live seems to me the essence of what is objectionable in 
"subjectivism". Its taint hangs about even Platonic realism 


with its insistent evangelical dwelling upon the change made 
within the mind by contemplation of the realm of essence, 
and its depreciation of action as transient and all but sordid 
a concession to the necessities of organic existence. All the 
theories which put conversion "of the eye of the soul" in the 
place of a conversion of natural and social objects that modifies 
goods actually experienced, are more a retreat and escape from 
existence and this retraction into self is, once more, the heart 
of subjective egoisms. The typical examp leis perhaps the other- 
worldliness found in religions whose chief concern is with 
the salvation of the personal soul. But other- worldliness is 
found as well in aestheticism and in all seclusion within ivory 

It is not in the least implied that change in personal attitudes, 
in the disposition of the "subject", is not of great impor- 
tance. Such change, on the contrary, is involved in any attempt 
to modify the conditions of the environment. But there is a 
radical difference between a change in the self that is culti- 
vated and valued as an end, and one that is a means to alteration, 
through action, of objective conditions. The Aristotelean- 
mediaeval conviction that highest bliss is found in contemplative 
possession of ultimate Being presents an ideal attractive to 
some types of mind; it sets forth a refined sort of enjoyment. 
It is a doctrine congenial to minds that despair of the effort 
involved in creation of a better world of daily experience. 
It is, apart from theological attachments, a doctrine sure 
to recur when social conditions are so troubled as to make 
actual endeavour seem hopeless. But the subjectivism so 
externally marked in modern thought as compared with 
ancient is either a development of the old doctrine under new 
conditions or is of merely technical import. The mediaeval 
version of the doctrine at least had the active support of a 
great social institution by means of which man could be 
brought into the state of mind that prepared him for ultimate 
enjoyment of eternal Being. It had a certain solidity and depth 


which is lacking in modern theories that would attain the 
result by merely emotional or speculative procedures, or by any 
means not demanding a change in objective existence so as to 
render objects of value more empirically secure. 

The nature in detail of the revolution that would be wrought 
by carrying into the region of values the principle now 
embodied in scientific practice cannot be told; to attempt it 
would violate the fundamental idea that we know only after 
we have acted and in consequences of the outcome of action. 
But it would surely effect a transfer of attention and energy 
from the subjective to the objective. Men would think of 
themselves as agents not as ends; ends would be found in 
experienced enjoyment of the fruits of a transforming activity. 
In as far as the subjectivity of modern thought represents 
a discovery of the part played by personal responses, organic 
and acquired, in the causal production of the qualities and 
values of objects, it marks the possibility of a decisive gain. 
It puts us in possession of some of the conditions that control 
the occurrence of experienced objects, and thereby it supplies 
us with an instrument of regulation. There is something 
querulous in the sweeping denial that things as experienced, 
as perceived and enjoyed, in any way depend upon inter- 
action with human selves. The error of doctrines that have 
exploited the part played by personal and subjective reactions 
in determining what is perceived and enjoyed lies either in 
exaggerating this factor of constitution into the sole condition 
as happens in subjective idealism or else in treating it as a 
finality instead of, as with all knowledge, an instrument in 
direction of further action. 

A third significant change that would issue from carrying 
over experimental method from physics to man concerns the 
import of standards, principles, rules. With the transfer, these, 
and all tenets and creeds about good and goods, would be 
recognized to be hypotheses. Instead of being rigidly fixed, 
they would be treated as intellectual instruments to be tested 


and confirmed and altered through consequences effected 
by acting upon them. They would lose all pretence of finality 
the ulterior source of dogmatism. It is both astonishing and 
depressing that so much of the energy of mankind has gone 
into fighting for (with weapons of the flesh as well as of the 
spirit) the truth of creeds, religious, moral and political, as 
distinct from what has gone into effort to try creeds by put- 
ting them to the test of acting upon them. The change would 
do away with the intolerance and fanaticism that attend the 
notion that beliefs and judgments are capable of inherent truth 
and authority; inherent in the sense of being independent of 
what they lead to when used as directive principles. The trans- 
formation does not imply merely that men are responsible 
for acting upon what they profess to believe; that is an old 
doctrine. It goes much further. Any belief as such is tentative, 
hypothetical ; it is not just to be acted upon, but is to be framed 
with reference to its office as a guide to action. Consequently, 
it should be the last thing in the world to be picked up casually 
and then clung to rigidly. When it is apprehended as a tool 
and only a tool, an instrumentality of direction, the same 
scrupulous attention will go to its formation as now goes into 
the making of instruments of precision in technical fields. 
Men, instead of being proud of accepting and asserting beliefs 
and "principles" on the ground of loyalty, will be as ashamed 
of that procedure as they would now be to confess their 
assent to a scientific theory out of reverence for Newton or 
Helmholtz or whomever, without regard to evidence. 

If one stops to consider the matter, is there not something 
strange in the fact that men should consider loyalty to * 'laws' ', 
principles, standards, ideals to be an inherent virtue, accounted 
unto them for righteousness ? It is as if they were making up 
for some secret sense of weakness by rigidity and intensity of 
insistent attachment. A moral law, like a law in physics, is 
not something to swear by and stick to at all hazards; it is a 
formula of the way to respond when specified conditions pre- 


sent themselves. Its soundness and pertinence are tested by 
what happens when it is acted upon. Its claim or authority 
rests finally upon the imperativeness of the situation that has to 
be dealt with, not upon its own intrinsic nature as any tool 
achieves dignity in the measure of needs served by it. The 
idea that adherence to standards external to experienced objects 
is the only alternative to confusion and lawlessness was once 
held in science. But knowledge became steadily progressive 
when it was abandoned, and clues and tests found within con- 
crete acts and objects were employed. The test of consequences 
is more exacting than that afforded by fixed general rules. In 
addition, it secures constant development, for when new acts 
are tried new results are experienced, while the lauded immu- 
tability of eternal ideals and norms is in itself a denial of the 
possibility of development and improvement. 

The various modifications that would result from adoption 
in social and humane subjects of the experimental way of 
thinking are perhaps summed up in saying that it would 
place method and means upon the level of importance that 
has, in the past, been imputed exclusively to ends. Means 
have been regarded as menial, and the useful as the servile. 
Means have been treated as poor relations to be endured, but 
not inherently welcome. The very meaning of the word 
"ideals" is significant of the divorce which has obtained 
between means and ends. "Ideals" are thought to be remote 
and inaccessible of attainment ; they are too high and fine to 
be sullied by realization. They serve vaguely to arouse "aspira- 
tion", but they do not evoke and direct strivings for embodiment 
in actual existence. They hover in an indefinite way over the 
actual scene; they are expiring ghosts of a once significant 
kingdom of divine reality whose rule penetrated to every detail 
of life. 

It is impossible to form a just estimate of the paralysis 
of effort that has been produced by indifference to means. 
Logically, it is truistic that lack of consideration for means 


signifies that so-called ends are not taken seriously. It is as if 
one professed devotion to painting pictures conjoined with 
contempt for canvas, brush and paints; or love of music on 
condition that no instruments, whether the voice or something 
external, be used to make sounds. The good workman in the 
arts is known by his respect for his tools and by his interest 
in perfecting his technique. The glorification in the arts of 
ends at the expense of means would be taken to be a sign 
of complete insincerity or even insanity. Ends separated from 
means are either sentimental indulgences or if they happen to 
exist are merely accidental. The ineffectiveness in action of 
"ideals" is due precisely to the supposition that means and 
ends are not on exactly the same level with respect to the 
attention and care they demand. 

It is, however, much easier to point out the formal con- 
tradiction implied in ideals that are professed without equal 
regard for the instruments and techniques of their realization, 
than it is to appreciate the concrete ways in which belief in 
their separation has found its way into life and borne corrupt 
and poisonous fruits. The separation marks the form in which 
the traditional divorce of theory and practice has expressed 
itself in actual life. It accounts for the relative impotency of 
arts concerned with enduring human welfare. Sentimental 
attachment and subjective eulogy take the place of action. For 
there is no art without tools and instrumental agencies. But 
it also explains the fact that in actual behaviour, energies 
devoted to matters nominally thought to be inferior, material 
and sordid, engross attention and interest. After a polite and 
pious deference has been paid to " ideals' J , men feel free to 
devote themselves to matters which are more immediate and 

It is usual to condemn the amount of attention paid by 
people in general to material ease, comfort, wealth, and success 
gained by competition, on the ground that they give to mere 
means the attention that ought to be given to ends, or that 


they have taken for ends things which in reality are only 
means. Criticisms of the place which economic interest and 
action occupy in present life are full of complaints that men 
allow lower aims to usurp the place that belongs to higher and 
ideal values. The final source of the trouble is, however, that 
moral and spiritual "leaders" have propagated the notion 
that ideal ends may be cultivated in isolation from "material" 
means, as if means and material were not synonymous. While 
they condemn men for giving to means the thought and 
energy that ought to go to ends, the condemnation should 
go to them. For they have not taught their followers to think 
of material and economic activities as really means. They have 
been unwilling to frame their conception of the values that 
should be regulative of human conduct on the basis of the 
actual conditions and operations by which alone values can be 

Practical needs are imminent; with the mass of mankind 
they are imperative. Moreover, speaking generally, men are 
formed to act rather than to theorize. Since the ideal ends 
are so remotely and accidentally connected with immediate 
and urgent conditions that need attention, after lip-service is 
given to them, men naturally devote themselves to the latter. 
If a bird in the hand is worth two in a neighbouring bush, an 
actuality in hand is worth, for the direction of conduct, many 
ideals that are so remote as to be invisible and inaccessible. 
Men hoist the banner of the ideal, and then march in the 
direction that concrete conditions suggest and reward. 

Deliberate insincerity and hypocrisy are rare. But the notion 
that action and sentiment are inherently unified in the con- 
stitution of human nature has nothing to justify it. Integration 
is something to be achieved. Division of attitudes and responses, 
compartmentalizing of interests, is easily acquired. It goes 
deep just because the acquisition is unconscious, a matter 
of habitual adaptation to conditions. Theory separated from 
concrete doing and making is empty and futile; practice then 


becomes an immediate seizure of opportunities and enjoy- 
ments which conditions afford without the direction which 
theory knowledge and ideas has power to supply. The 
problem of the relation of theory and practice is not a problem 
of theory alone; it is that, but it is also the most practical 
problem of life. For it is the question of how intelligence 
may inform action, and how action may bear the fruit of 
increased insight into meaning : a clear view of the values that 
are worth while and of the means by which they are to be made 
secure in experienced objects. Construction of ideals in general 
and their sentimental glorification are easy ; the responsibilities 
both of studious thought and of action are shirked. Persons 
having the advantage of positions of leisure and who find 
pleasure in abstract theorizing a most delightful indulgence 
to those to whom it appeals have a large measure of liability 
for a cultivated diffusion of ideals and aims that are sepa- 
rated from the conditions which are the means of actualization. 
Then other persons who find themselves in positions of social 
power and authority readily claim to be the bearers and 
defenders of ideal ends in church and state. They then use the 
prestige and authority their representative capacity as guardians 
of the highest ends confers on them to cover actions taken in 
behalf of the harshest and narrowest of material ends. 

The present state of industrial life seems to give a fair 
index of the existing separation of means and ends. Isolation 
of economics from ideal ends, whether of morals or of organ- 
ized social life, was proclaimed by Aristotle. Certain things, 
he said, are conditions of a worthy life, personal and social, 
but are not constituents of it. The economic life of man, 
concerned with satisfaction of wants, is of this nature. Men 
have wants and they must be satisfied. But they are only pre- 
requisites of a good life, not intrinsic elements in it. Most 
philosophers have not been so frank nor perhaps so logical. But 
upon the whole, economics has been treated as on a lower level 
than either morals or politics. Yet the life which men, women 


and children actually lead, the opportunities open to them, 
the values they are capable of enjoying, their education, their 
share in all the things of art and science, are mainly deter- 
mined by economic conditions. Hence we can hardly expect 
a moral system which ignores economic conditions to be other 
than remote and empty. 

Industrial life is correspondingly brutalized by failure to 
equate it as the means by which social and cultural values are 
realized. That the economic life, thus exiled from the pale of 
higher values, takes revenge by declaring that it is the only 
social reality, and by means of the doctrine of materialistic 
determination of institutions and conduct in all fields, denies 
to deliberate morals and politics any share of causal regulation, 
is not surprising. 

When economists were told that their subject-matter was 
merely material, they naturally thought they could be "scien- 
tific" only by excluding all reference to distinctively human 
values. Material wants, efforts to satisfy them, even the 
scientifically regulated technologies highly developed in indus- 
trial activity, are then taken to form a complete and closed 
field. If any reference to social ends and values is introduced 
it is by way of an external addition, mainly hortatory. That 
economic life largely determines the conditions under which 
mankind has access to concrete values may be recognized or 
it may not be. In either case, the notion that it is the means to 
be utilized in order to secure significant values as the common 
and shared possession of mankind is alien and inoperative. 
To many persons, the idea that the ends professed by morals 
are impotent save as they are connected with the working 
machinery of economic life seems like deflowering the purity 
of moral values and obligations. 

The social and moral effects of the separation of theory 
and practice have been merely hinted at. They are so manifold 
and so pervasive that an adequate consideration of them would 
involve nothing less than a survey of the whole field of morals, 


economics and politics. It cannot be justly stated that these 
effects are in fact direct consequences of the quest for cer- 
tainty by thought and knowledge isolated from action. For, 
as we have seen, this quest was itself a reflex product of actual 
conditions. But it may be truly asserted that this quest, under- 
taken in religion and philosophy, has had results which have 
reinforced the conditions which originally brought it about. 
Moreover, search for safety and consolation amid the perils 
of life by means other than intelligent action, by feeling and 
thought alone, began when actual means of control were 
lacking, when arts were undeveloped. It had then a relative 
historic justification that is now lacking. The primary problem 
for thinking which lays claim to be philosophic in its breadth 
and depth is to assist in bringing about a reconstruction of all 
beliefs rooted in a basic separation of knowledge and action; 
to develop a system of operative ideas congruous with present 
knowledge and with present facilities of control over natural 
events and energies. 

We have noted more than once how modern philosophy 
has been absorbed in the problem of effecting an adjustment 
between the conclusions of natural science and the beliefs and 
values that have authority in the direction of life. The genuine 
and poignant issue does not reside where philosophers for the 
most part have placed it. It does not consist in accommodation 
to each other of two realms, one physical and the other ideal 
and spiritual, nor in the reconciliation of the "categories" of 
theoretical and practical reason. It is found in that isolation of 
executive means and ideal interests which has grown up under 
the influence of the separation of theory and practice. For this, 
by nature, involves the separation of the material and the 
spiritual. Its solution, therefore, can be found only in action 
wherein the phenomena of material and economic life are 
equated with the purposes that command the loyalties of 
affection and purpose, and in which ends and ideals are 
framed in terms of the possibilities of actually experienced 


situations. But while the solution cannot be found in "thought" 
alone, it can be furthered by thinking which is operative 
which frames and defines ideas in terms of what may be done, 
and which uses the conclusions of science as instrumentalities. 
William James was well within the bounds of moderation 
when he said that looking forward instead of backward, look- 
ing to what the world and life might become instead of to what 
they have been, is an alteration in the "seat of authority". 

It was incidentally remarked earlier in our discussion that 
the serious defect in the current empirical philosophy of values, 
the one which identifies them with things actually enjoyed 
irrespective of the conditions upon which they depend, is that 
it formulates and in so far consecrates the conditions of our 
present social experience. Throughout these chapters, primary 
attention has perforce been given to the methods and statements 
of philosophic theories. But these statements are technical 
and specialized in formulation only. In origin, content and 
import they are reflections of some condition or some phase 
of concrete human experience. Just as the theory of the 
separation of theory and practice has a practical origin and 
a momentous practical consequence, so the empirical theory 
that values are identical with whatever men actually enjoy, no 
matter how or what, formulates an aspect, and an undesirable 
one, of the present social situation. 

For while our discussion has given more attention to the 
other type of philosophical doctrine, that which holds that 
regulative and authoritative standards are found in transcendent 
eternal values, it has not passed in silence over the fact that 
actually the greater part of the activities of the greater number 
of human beings is spent in effort to seize upon and hold on to 
such enjoyments as the actual scene permits. Their energies and 
their enjoyments are controlled in fact, but they are controlled 
by external conditions rather than by intelligent judgment and 
endeavour. If philosophies have any influence over the thoughts 
and acts of men, it is a serious matter that the most widely held 


empirical theory should in effect justify this state of things 
by identifying values with the objects of any interest as such. 
As long as the only theories of value placed before us for 
intellectual assent alternate between sending us to a realm of 
eternal and fixed values and sending us to enjoyments such as 
actually obtain, the formulation, even as only a theory, of an 
experimental empiricism which finds values to be identical with 
goods that are the fruit of intelligently directed activ^y has 
its measure of practical significance. 



KANT CLAIMED THAT HE had effected a Copernican revolution 
in philosophy by treating the world and our knowledge of it 
from the standpoint of the knowing subject. To most critics, the 
endeavour to make the known world turn on the constitution 
of the knowing mind, seems like a return to an ultra-Ptolemaic 
system. But Copernicus, as Kant understood him, effected a 
straightening out of astronomical phenomena by interpreting 
their perceived movements from their relation to the perceiving 
subject, instead of treating them as inherent in the things 
perceived. The revolution of the sun about the earth as it offers 
itself to sense-perception was regarded as due to the conditions 
of human observation and not to the movements of the sun 
itself. Disregarding the consequences of the changed point of 
view, Kant settled upon this one feature as characteristic of the 
method of Copernicus. He thought he could generalize this 
feature of Copernican method, and thus clear up a multitude of 
philosophical difficulties by attributing the facts in question to 
the constitution of the human subject in knowing. 

That the consequence was Ptolemaic rather than Copernican 
is not to be wondered at. In fact, the alleged revolution of Kant 
consisted in making explicit what was implicit in the classic 
tradition. In words, the latter had asserted that knowledge is 
determined by the objective constitution of the universe. But 
it did so only after it had first assumed that the universe is 
itself constituted after the pattern of reason. Philosophers first 
constructed a rational system of nature and then borrowed 
from it the features by which to characterize their knowledge 
of it. Kant, in effect, called attention to the borrowing; he 
insisted that credit for the borrowed material be assigned to 
human reason instead of to divine. His "revolution" was a 
shift from a theological to a human authorship; beyond that 



point, it was an explicit acknowledgment of what philosophers 
in the classic line of descent had been doing unconsciously 
before him. For the basic assumption of this tradition was the 
inherent correspondence subsisting between intellectus and the 
structure of Nature the principle so definitely stated by 
Spinoza. By the time of Kant difficulties in this rationalistic 
premise had become evident. He thought to maintain the under- 
lying idea and remedy the perplexities it entailed by placing the 
locus of intellect in man as a knowing subject. The irritation 
which this performance arouses in some minds is due rather 
to this transfer than to any doubt about the valid function of 
reason in the constitution of nature. 

Kant refers incidentally to the experimental method of 
Galileo as an illustration of the way in which thought actually 
takes the lead, so that an object is known because of conformity 
to a prior conception : because of its conformity to the specifi- 
cations of the latter. The reference makes clear by contrast the 
genuine reversal contained in the experimental way of knowing. 
It is true that experimentation proceeds on the basis of a direc- 
tive idea. But the difference between the office of the idea in 
determining a known object and the office assigned to it in 
Kant's theory is as great as between the Copernican and the 
Ptolemaic systems. For an idea in experiment is tentative, 
conditional, not fixed and rigorously determinative. It controls 
an action to be performed, but the consequences of the operation 
determine the worth of the directive idea ; the latter does not 
fix the nature of the object. 

Moreover, in experiment everything takes place aboveboard, 
in the open. Every step is overt and capable of being observed. 
There is a specified antecedent state of things; a specified 
operation using means, both physical and symbolic, which are 
externally exhibited and reported. The entire process by which 
the conclusion is reached that such and such a judgment of an 
object is valid is overt. It can be repeated step by step by any- 
one. Thus every one can judge for himself whether or not 


the conclusion reached as to the object justifies assertion of 
knowledge, or whether there are gaps and deflections. Moreover, 
the whole process goes on where other existential processes go 
on, in time. There is a temporal sequence as definitely as in any 
art, as in, say, the making of cotton cloth from ginning of raw 
material, through carding and spinning, to the operation of the 
loom. A public and manifest series of definite operations, all 
capable of public notice and report, distinguishes scientific 
knowing from the knowing carried on by inner " mental " 
processes accessible only to introspection, or inferred by 
dialectic from assumed premises. 

There is accordingly opposition rather than agreement 
between the Kantian determination of objects by thought and 
the determination by thought that takes place in experimenta- 
tion. There is nothing hypothetical or conditional about Kant's 
forms of perception and conception. They work uniformly and 
triumphantly ; they need no differential testing by consequences. 
The reason Kant postulates them is to secure universality and 
necessity instead of the hypothetical and the probable. Nor is 
there anything overt, observable and temporal or historical in 
the Kantian machinery. Its work is done behind the scenes. 
Only the result is observed, and only an elaborate process of 
dialectic inference enables Kant to assert the existence of his 
apparatus of forms and categories. These are as inaccessible to 
observation as were the occult forms and essences whose 
rejection was a prerequisite of development of modern science. 

These remarks are not directed particularly against Kant. 
For, as has been already said, he edited a new version of old 
conceptions about mind and its activities in knowing, rather 
than evolved a brand-new theory. But since he happens to 
be the author of the phrase "Copernican revolution", his 
philosophy forms a convenient point of departure for con- 
sideration of a genuine reversal of traditional ideas about 
the mind, reason, conceptions and mental processes. Phases 
of this revolution have concerned us in the previous lectures. 


We have seen how the opposition between knowing and doing, 
theory and practice, has been abandoned in the actual enterprise 
of scientific inquiry, how knowing goes forward by means of 
doing. We have seen how the cognitive quest for absolute 
certainty by purely mental means has been surrendered in 
behalf of search for a security, having a high degree of proba- 
bility, by means of preliminary active regulation of conditions. 
We have considered some of the definite steps by which 
security has come to attach to regulation of change rather than 
absolute certainty to the unchangeable. We have noted how in 
consequence of this transformation the standard of judgment 
has been transferred from antecedents to consequents, from 
inert dependence upon the past to intentional construction of 
a future. 

If such changes do not constitute, in the depth and scope 
of their significance, a reversal comparable to a Copernican 
revolution, I am at a loss to know where such a change can be 
found or what it would be like. The old centre was mind know- 
ing by means of an equipment of powers complete within itself, 
and merely exercised upon an antecedent external material 
equally complete in itself. The new centre is indefinite inter- 
actions taking place within a course of nature which is not fixed 
and complete, but which is capable of direction to new and 
different results through the mediation of intentional operations. 
Neither self nor world, neither soul nor nature (in the sense of 
something isolated and finished in its isolation) is the centre, 
any more than either earth or sun is the absolute centre of a 
single universal and necessary frame of reference. There is a 
moving whole of interacting parts ; a centre emerges wherever 
there is effort to change them in a particular direction. 

The reversal has many phases, and these are interconnected. 
It cannot be said that one is more important than another. But 
one change stands out with an extraordinary distinctness. Mind 
is no longer a spectator beholding the world from without and 
finding its highest satisfaction in the joy of self-sufficing 


contemplation. The mind is within the world as a part of the 
latter's own on-going process. It is marked off as mind by the 
fact that wherever it is found, changes take place in a directed 
way, so that a movement in a definite oneway sense from the 
doubtful and confused to the clear, resolved and settled takes 
place. From knowing as an outside beholding to knowing as 
an active participant in the drama of an on-moving world is 
the historical transition whose record we have been following. 

As far as philosophy is concerned, the first direct and imme- 
diate effect of this shift from knowing which makes a difference 
to the knower but none in the world, to knowing which is 
a directed change within the world, is the complete abandon- 
ment of what we may term the intellectualist fallacy. By this 
is meant something which may also be termed the ubiquity of 
knowledge as a measure of reality. Of the older philosophies, 
framed before experimental knowing had made any significant 
progress, it may be said that they made a definite separation 
between the world in which man thinks and knows and the 
world in which he lives and acts. In his needs and in the acts 
that spring from them, man was a part of the world, a sharer 
in its fortunes, sometimes willingly, sometimes perforce; he 
was exposed to its vicissitudes and at the mercy of its irregular 
and unforeseeable changes. By acting in and upon the world he 
made his earthly way, sometimes failing, sometimes achieving, 
He was acted upon by it, sometimes carried forward to un- 
expected glories and sometimes overwhelmed by its disfavour. 

Being unable to cope with the world in which he lived, he 
sought some way to come to terms with the universe as a whole. 
Religion was, in its origin, an expression of this endeavour. 
After a time, a few persons with leisure and endowed by fortune 
with immunity from the rougher impacts of the world, dis- 
covered the delights of thought and inquiry. They reached the 
conclusion that through rational thought they could rise above 
the natural world in which, with their body and those mental 
processes that were connected with the body, they lived. In 


striving with the inclemencies of nature, suffering its bufferings, 
wresting sustenance from its resources, they were parts of 
nature. But in knowledge, true knowledge which is rational, 
occupied with objects that are universal and immutable, they 
escaped from the world of vicissitude and uncertainty. They 
were elevated above the realm in which needs are felt and 
laborious effort imperative. In rising above this world of sense 
and time, they came into rational communion with the divine 
which was untroubled and perfect mind. They became true 
participants in the realm of ultimate reality. Through knowledge, 
they were without the world of chance and change, and within 
the world of perfect and unchanging Being. 

How far this glorification by philosophers and scientific 
investigators of a life of knowing, apart from and above a life 
of doing, might have impressed the popular mind without 
adventitious aid there is no saying. But external aid came. 
Theologians of the Christian Church adopted this view in a 
form adapted to their religious purposes. The perfect and 
ultimate reality was God; to know Him was eternal bliss. The 
world in which man lived and acted was a world of trials and 
troubles to test and prepare him for a higher destiny. Through 
thousands of ways, including histories and rites, with symbols 
that engaged the emotions and imagination, the essentials of 
the doctrine of classic philosophy filtered their way into the 
popular mind. 

It would be a one-sided view which held that this story gives 
the entire account of the elevation of knowing and its object 
above practical action and its objects. A contributing cause was 
found in the harshness, cruelties and tragic frustrations of the 
world of action. Were it not for its brutalities and failures, the 
motive for seeking refuge in a higher realm of knowledge would 
have been lacking. It was easy and, as we say, "natural" to 
associate these evils with the fact that the world in which we 
act is a realm of change. The generic fact of change was made 
absolute and the source of all the troubles and defects of the 


world in which we directly live. At the very best, good and 
excellence are insecure in a world of change; good can be 
securely at home only in a realm of fixed unchanging substance. 
When the source of evil was once asserted to reside in the 
inherent deficiencies of a realm of change, responsibility was 
removed from human ignorance, incapacity and insusceptibility. 
It remained only to change our own attitude and disposition, 
to turn the soul from perishable things toward perfect Being. 
In this idea religion stated in one language precisely what the 
great philosophic tradition stated in another. 

Nor is this the whole of the story. There was, strangely 
enough, a definitely practical ground for the elevation of 
knowledge above doing and making. Whenever knowledge is 
actually obtained, a measure of security through ability to 
control ensues. There is a natural inclination to treat value as 
a measure of reality. Since knowledge is the mode of experience 
that puts in our hands the key to controlling our other dealings 
with experienced objects, it has a central position. There is no 
practical point gained in asserting that a thing is what it is 
experienced to be apart from knowledge. If a man has typhoid 
fever, he has it; he does not have to search for or pry into it. 
But to know it, he does have to search : to thought, to intellect, 
the fever is what it is known to be. For when it is known, the 
various phenomena of having it, the direct experiences, fall 
into order ; we have at least that kind of control called under- 
standing, and with this comes the possibility of a more active 
control. The very fact that other experiences speak, so to say, 
for themselves makes it unnecessary to ask what they are. When 
the nature of an existence is in doubt and we have to seek for 
it, the idea of reality is consciously present. Hence the thought 
of existence becomes exclusively associated with knowing. 
Other ways of experiencing things exist so obviously that we 
do not think of existence in connection with them. 

At all events, whatever the explanation, the idea that cognition 
is the measure of the reality found in other modes of experience 


is the most widely distributed premise of philosophies. The 
equation of the real and the known comes to explicit statement 
in idealistic theories. If we remind ourselves of the landscape 
with trees and grasses waving in the wind and waves dancing in 
sunlight, we recall how scientific thought of these things strips 
off the qualities significant in perception and direct enjoyment, 
leaving only certain physical constants stated in mathematical 
formulae. What is more natural, then, than to call upon mind to 
reclothe by some contributory act of thought or consciousness 
the grim skeleton offered by science? Then if only it can be 
shown that mathematical relations are themselves a logical 
construction of thought, the knowing mind is enstated as the 
constitutive author of the whole scheme. Realistic theories have 
protested against doctrines that make the knowing mind the 
source of the thing known. But they have held to a doctrine of 
a partial equation of the real and the known ; only they have 
read the equation from the side of the object instead of the 
subject. Knowledge must be the grasp or vision of the real as 
it "is in itself ", while emotions and affections deal with it as it 
is affected with an alien element supplied by the feeling and 
desiring subject. The postulate of the unique and exclusive 
relation among experienced things of knowledge and the real 
is shared by epistemological idealist and realist. 

The meaning of a Copernican reversal is that we do not 
have to go to knowledge to obtain an exclusive hold on reality. 
The world as we experience it is a real world. But it is not in its 
primary phases a world that is known, a world that is understood, 
and is intellectually coherent and secure. Knowing consists of 
operations that give experienced objects a form in which the 
relations upon which the onward course of events depends 
are securely experienced. It marks a transitional redirection 
and rearrangement of the real. It is intermediate and instru- 
mental; it comes between a relatively casual and accidental 
experience of existence and one relatively settled and defined. 
The knower is within the world of existence ; his knowing, as 


experimental, marks an interaction of one existence with other 
existences. There is, however, a most important difference 
between it and other existential interactions. The difference is 
not between something going on within nature as a part of itself 
and something else taking place outside it, but is that between 
a regulated course of changes and an uncontrolled one. In 
knowledge, causes become means and effects become conse- 
quences, and thereby things have meanings. The known object 
is an antecedent object as that is intentionally rearranged and 
redisposed, an eventual object whose value is tested by the 
reconstruction it effects. It emerges, as it were, from the fire 
of experimental thought as a refined metal issues from opera- 
tions performed on crude material. It is the same object but 
the same object with a difference, as a man who has been 
through conditions which try the temper of his being comes 
out the same man and a different man. 

Knowledge then does not encompass the world as a whole. 
But the fact that it is not coextensive with experienced existence 
is no defect nor failure on its part. It is an expression of the fact 
that knowledge attends strictly to its own business : trans- 
formation of disturbed and unsettled situations into those more 
controlled and more significant. Not all existence asks to be 
known, and it certainly does not ask leave from thought to exist. 
But some existences as they are experienced do ask thought to 
direct them in their course so that they may be ordered and 
fair and be such as to commend themselves to admiration, 
approval and appreciation. Knowledge affords the sole means 
by which this redirection can be effected. As the latter is 
brought about, parts of the experienced world have more 
luminous and organized meaning and their significance is 
rendered more secure against the gnawing tooth of time. The 
problem of knowledge is the problem of discovery of methods 
for carrying on this enterprise of redirection. It is a problem 
never ended, always in process; one problematic situation is 
resolved and another takes its place. The constant gain is not 


in approximation to universal solution, but in betterment of 
methods and enrichment of objects experienced. 

Man as a natural creature acts as masses and molecules act ; 
he lives as animals live, eating, fighting, fearing, reproducing. 
As he lives, some of his actions yield understanding and things 
take on meaning, for they become signs of one another; means 
of expectation and of recall, preparations for what is to come 
and celebrations of what has gone. Activities take on ideal 
quality. Attraction and repulsion become love of the admirable 
and hate of the harsh and ugly, and they seek to find and make 
a world in which they may be securely at home. Hopes and 
fears, desires and aversions, are as truly responses to things as 
are knowing and thinking. Our affections, when they are 
enlightened by understanding, are organs by which we enter 
into the meaning of the natural world as genuinely as by know- 
ing, and with greater fullness and intimacy. This deeper and 
richer intercourse with things can be effected only by thought 
and its resultant knowledge; the arts in which the potential 
meanings of nature are realized demand an intermediate and 
transitional phase of detachment and abstraction. The colder 
and less intimate transactions of knowing involve temporary 
disregard of the qualities and values to which our affections 
and enjoyments are attached. But knowledge is an indispensable 
medium of our hopes and fears, of loves and hates, if desires 
and preferences are to be steady, ordered, charged with meaning, 

The glorification of knowledge as the exclusive avenue of 
access to what is real is not going to give way soon nor all at once. 
But it can hardly endure indefinitely. The more widespread 
become the habits of intelligent thought, the fewer enemies 
they meet from those vested interests and social institutions 
whose power depends upon immunity from inspection by 
intelligence, in short, the more matter of course they become, 
the less need will there seem to be for giving knowledge an 
exclusive and monopolistic position. It will be prized for its 


fruits rather than for the properties assigned to it when it was a 
new and precarious enterprise. The common fact that we prize 
in proportion to rarity has a good deal to do with the exclusive 
esteem in which knowledge has been held. There is so much 
unintelligent appetite and impulse, so much routine action, so 
much that is dictated by the arbitrary power of other persons, 
so much, in short, that is not informed and enlightened by 
knowledge, that it is not surprising that action and knowledge 
should have been isolated in thought from one another, and 
knowledge treated as if it alone had dealings with real existence. 
I do not know when knowledge will become naturalized in the 
life of society. But when it is fully acclimatized, its instrumental, 
as distinct from its monopolistic, role in approach to things of 
nature and society will be taken for granted without need for 
such arguments as I have been engaging in. Meantime, the 
development of the experimental method stands as a prophecy 
of the possibility of the accomplishment of this Copernican 

Whenever anyone speaks about the relation of knowledge 
(especially if the word science be used) to our moral, artistic 
and religious interests, there are two dangers to which he is 
exposed. There exist on one hand efforts to use scientific 
knowledge to substantiate moral and religious beliefs, either 
with respect to some specific form in which they are current 
or in some vague way that is felt to be edifying and comforting. 
On the other hand, philosophers derogate the importance and 
necessity of knowledge in order to make room for an undisputed 
sway of some set of moral and religious tenets. It may be that 
preconceptions will lead some to interpret what has been said in 
one or other of these senses. If so, it is well to state that not a 
word has been said in depreciation of science ; what has been 
criticized is a philosophy and habit of mind on the ground of 
which science is prized for false reasons. Nor does this negative 
statement cover the whole ground. Knowledge is instrumental. 
But the purport of our whole discussion has been in praise of 


tools, instrumentalities, means, putting them on a level 
equal in value to ends and consequences, since without them 
the latter are merely accidental, sporadic and unstable. To 
call known objects, in their capacity of being objects of 
knowledge, means is to appreciate them, not to depreciate 

Affections, desires, purposes, choices are going to endure as 
long as man is man; therefore as long as man is man, there are 
going to be ideas, judgments, beliefs about values. Nothing could 
be sillier than to attempt to justify their existence at large ; they 
are going to exist anyway. What is inevitable needs no proof 
for its existence. But these expressions of our nature need 
direction, and direction is possible only through knowledge. 
When they are informed by knowledge, they themselves 
constitute, in their directed activity, intelligence in operation. 
Thus as far as concerns particular value-beliefs, particular 
moral and religious ideas and creeds, the import of what has 
been said is that they need to be tested and revised by the best 
knowledge at command. The moral of the discussion is anything 
but a reservation for them of a position in which they are exempt 
from the impact, however disintegrative it may be, of new 

The relation between objects as known and objects with 
respect to value is that between the actual and the possible. "The 
actual" consists of given conditions; "the possible " denotes 
ends or consequences not now existing but which the actual 
may through its use bring into existence. The possible in 
respect to any given actual situation is thus an ideal for that 
situation; from the standpoint of operational definition of 
thinking in terms of action the ideal and the possible are 
equivalent ideas. Idea and ideal have more in common than 
certain letters of the alphabet. Everywhere an idea, in its 
intellectual content, is a projection of what something existing 
may come to be. One may report a quality already sensed in a 
proposition, as when standing before the fire I remark upon 


how hot it is. When seeing something at a distance, I judge 
without sensible contact that it must be hot; "hot" expresses 
a consequence which I infer would be experienced if I were 
to approach close enough ; it designates a possibility of what is 
actually there in experience. The instance is a trivial one, but 
it sets forth what happens in every case where any predicate, 
whether quality or relation, expresses an idea rather than a 
sensibly perceived characteristic. The difference is not between 
one mental state called a sensation and another called an image. 
It is between what is experienced as being already there and 
what marks a possibility of being experienced. If we agree to 
leave out the eulogistic savour of "ideal" and define it in 
contrast with the actual, the possibility denoted by an idea is 
the ideal phase of the existent. 

The problem of the connection or lack of connection of the 
actual and the ideal has always been the central problem of 
philosophy in its metaphysical aspect, just as the relation 
between existence and idea has been the central theme of 
philosophy on the side of the theory of knowledge. Both issues 
come together in the problem of the relation of the actual and 
the possible. Both problems are derived from the necessities of 
action if that is to be intelligently regulated. Assertion of an idea 
or of an ideal, if it is genuine, is a claim that it is possible to 
modify what exists so that it will take on a form possessed of 
specifiable traits. This statement as it relates to an idea, to the 
cognitive aspect, takes us back to what has been said about 
ideas as designations of operations and their consequences. 
Its bearing upon the "ideal" concerns us at this point. 

In this basic problem of the relation of the actual and ideal, 
classic philosophies have always attempted to prove that the 
ideal is already and eternally a property of the real. The quest 
for absolute cognitive certainty has come to a head in the quest 
for an ideal which is one with the ultimately real. Men have 
not been able to trust either the world or themselves to realize 
the values and qualities which are the possibilities of nature. 


The sense of incompetency and the sloth born of desire for 
irresponsibility have combined to create an overwhelming 
longing for the ideal and rational as an antecedent possession 
of actuality, and consequently something upon which we can 
fall back for emotional support in times of trouble. 

The assumption of the antecedent inherent identity of actual 
and ideal has generated problems which have not been solved. 
It is the source of the problem of evil ; of evil not merely in the 
moral sense, but in that of the existence of defect and aberration, 
of uncertainty and error, of all deviation from the perfect. If 
the universe is in itself ideal, why is there so much in our 
experience of it which is so thoroughly un-ideal ? Attempts to 
answer this question have always been compelled to introduce 
lapse from perfect Being: some kind of fall to which is due 
the distinction between noumena and phenomena, things as 
they really are and as they seem to be. There are many versions 
of this doctrine. The simplest, though not the one which has 
most commended itself to most philosophers, is the idea of the 
"fall of man", a fall which, in the words of Cardinal Newman, 
has implicated all creation in an aboriginal catastrophe. I am 
not concerned to discuss them and their respective weaknesses 
and strengths. It is enough to note that the philosophies which 
go by the name of Idealism are attempts to prove by one method 
or another, cosmological, ontological or epistemological, that 
the Real and the Ideal are one, while at the same time they 
introduce qualifying additions to explain why after all they are 
not one. 

There are three ways of idealizing the world. There is 
idealization through purely intellectual and logical processes, 
in which reasoning alone attempts to prove that the world has 
characters that satisfy our highest aspirations. There are, again, 
moments of intense emotional appreciation when, through a 
happy conjunction of the state of the self and of the surrounding 
world, the beauty and harmony of existence is disclosed in 
experiences which are the immediate consummation of all for 


which we long. Then there is an idealization through actions 
that are directed by thought, such as are manifested in the works 
of fine art and in all human relations perfected by loving care. 
The first path has been taken by many philosophies. The 
second while it lasts is the most engaging. It sets the measure 
of our ideas of possibilities that are to be realized by intelligent 
endeavour. But its objects depend upon fortune and are insecure. 
The third method represents the way of deliberate quest for 
security of the values that are enjoyed by grace in our happy 

That in fortunate moments objects of complete and approved 
enjoyment are had is evidence that nature is capable of giving 
birth to objects that stay with us as ideal. Nature thus supplies 
potential material for embodiment of ideals. Nature, if I may 
use the locution, is idealizable. It lends itself to operations by 
which it is perfected. The process is not a passive one. Rather 
nature gives, not always freely, but in response to search, means 
and material by which the values we judge to have supreme 
quality may be embodied in existence. It depends upon the 
choice of man whether he employs what nature provides and 
for what ends he uses it. 

Idealism of this type is not content with dialectical proofs 
that the perfect is already and immutably in Being, either as a 
property of some higher power or as an essence. The emotional 
satisfactions and encouragements thus supplied are not an 
adequate substitute for an ideal which is projected in order to be 
a guide of our doings. While the happy moment brings us objects 
to admire, approve and revere, the security and extent in which 
the beautiful, the true and the revered qualify the world, depend 
upon the way in which our own affections and desires for that 
kind of world engage activities. Things loved, admired and 
revered, things that spiritualistic philosophies have seized upon 
as the defining characters of ultimate Being, are genuine 
elements of nature. But without the aid and support of deliberate 
action based on understanding of conditions, they are transitory 


and unstable, as well as narrow and confined in the number of 
those who enjoy them. 

Religious faiths have come under the influence of philosophies 
that have tried to demonstrate the fixed union of the actual and 
ideal in ultimate Being. Their interest in persuading to a life 
of loyalty to what is esteemed good, has been bound up with 
a certain creed regarding historical origins. Religion has also 
been involved in the metaphysics of substance, and has thrown 
in its lot with acceptance of certain cosmogonies. It has found 
itself fighting a battle and a losing one with science, as if religion 
were a rival theory about the structure of the natural world. 
It has committed itself to assertions about astronomical, 
geological, biological subject-matter; about questions of 
anthropology, literary criticism and history. With the advances 
of sciences in these fields it has in consequence found itself 
involved in a series of conflicts, compromises, adjustments 
and retreats. 

The religious attitude as a sense of the possibilities of 
existence and as devotion to the cause of these possibilities, 
as distinct from acceptance of what is given at the time, 
gradually extricates itself from these unnecessary intellectual 
commitments. But religious devotees rarely stop to notice that 
what lies at the basis of recurrent conflicts with scientific 
findings is not this or that special dogma so much as it is 
alliance with philosophical schemes which hold that the reality 
and power of whatever is excellent and worthy of supreme 
devotion depends upon proof of its antecedent existence, so 
that the ideal of perfection loses its claim over us unless it can 
be demonstrated to exist in the sense in which the sun and 
stars exist. 

Were it not because of this underlying assumption, there 
could be no conflict between science and religion. The currency 
of attempts to reconcile scientific conclusions with special 
doctrines of religion may unfortunately suggest, when such a 
statement is made, the idea of some infallible recipe for concilia- 


tion. But nothing is further from its meaning. It signifies that a 
religious attitude would surrender once for all commitment 
to beliefs about matters of fact, whether physical, social or 
metaphysical. It would leave such matters to inquirers in other 
fields. Nor would it substitute in their place fixed beliefs about 
values, save the one value of the worth of discovering the 
possibilities of the actual and striving to realize them. Whatever 
is discovered about actual existence would modify the content 
of human beliefs about ends, purposes and goods. But it would 
and could not touch the fact that we are capable of directing 
our affection and loyalty to the possibilities resident in the 
actualities discovered. An idealism of action that is devoted 
to creation of a future, instead of to staking itself upon proposi- 
tions about the past, is invincible. The claims of the beautiful 
to be admired and cherished do not depend upon ability to 
demonstrate statements about the past history of art. The 
demand of righteousness for reverence does not depend upon 
ability to prove the existence of an antecedent Being who is 

It is not possible to set forth with any accuracy or complete- 
ness just what form religion would take if it were wedded to 
an idealism of this sort, or just what would happen if it broke 
away from that quest for certitude in the face of peril and 
human weakness which has determined its historic and institu- 
tional career. But some features of the spirit of the change 
which would follow may be indicated. Not the least important 
change would be a shift from the defensive and apologetic 
position which is practically compulsory as long as religious 
faith is bound up with defence of doctrines regarding history 
and physical nature ; for this entanglement subjects it to con- 
stant danger of conflict with science. The energy which is thus 
diverted into defence of positions that have in time to be 
surrendered would be released for positive activity in behalf of 
the security of the underlying possibilities of actual life. More 
important still would be liberation from attachment to dogmas 



framed in conditions very unlike those in which we live, and 
the substitution of a disposition to turn to constructive account 
the results of knowledge. 

It is not possible to estimate the amelioration that would 
result if the stimulus and support given to practical action by 
science were no longer limited to industry and commerce and 
merely "secular" affairs. As long as the practical import of the 
advance of science is confined to these activities, the dualism 
between the values which religion professes and the urgent 
concerns of daily livelihood will persist. The gulf between them 
will continually grow wider, and the widening will not, judging 
from past history, be at the expense of the territory occupied 
by mundane and secular affairs. On the contrary, ideal interests 
will be compelled to retreat more and more to a confined ground. 

The philosophy which holds that the realm of essence subsists 
as an independent realm of Being also emphasizes that this is a 
realm of possibilities ; it offers this realm as the true object of 
religious devotion. But, by definition, such possibilities are 
abstract and remote. They have no concern nor traffic with 
natural and social objects that are concretely experienced. It 
is not possible to avoid the impression that the idea of such a 
realm is simply the hypostatizing in a wholesale way of the fact 
that actual existence has its own possibilities. But in any case 
devotion to such remote and unattached possibilities simply 
perpetuates the other-worldliness of religious tradition, 
although its other-world is not one supposed to exist. Thought 
of it is a refuge, not a resource. It becomes effective in relation 
to the conduct of life only when separation of essence from 
existence is cancelled ; when essences are taken to be possibilities 
to be embodied through action in concrete objects of secure 
experience. Nothing is gained by reaching the latter through 
a circuitous course. 

Religious faith which attaches itself to the possibilities of 
nature and associated living would, with its devotion to the ideal, 
manifest piety toward the actual. It would not be querulous 


with respect to the defects and hardships of the latter. Respect 
and esteem would be given to that which is the means of 
realization of possibilities, and to that in which the ideal 
is embodied if it ever finds embodiment. Aspiration and 
endeavour are not ends in themselves ; value is not in them in 
isolation but in them as means to that reorganization of the 
existent in which approved meanings are attained. Nature and 
society include within themselves projection of ideal possibilities 
and contain the operations by which they are actualized. 
Nature may not be worshipped as divine even in the sense of 
the intellectual love of Spinoza. But nature, including humanity, 
with all its defects and imperfections, may evoke heartfelt 
piety as the source of ideals, of possibilities, of aspiration in 
their behalf, and as the eventual abode of all attained goods and 

I have no intention of entering into the field of the psychology 
of religion, that is to say, the personal attitudes involved in 
religious experience. But I suppose that no one can deny that 
the sense of dependence, insisted upon, for example, by 
Schleiermacher, comes close to the heart of the matter. This 
sense has taken many different forms in connection with different 
states of culture. It has shown itself in abject fears, in 
practice of extreme cruelties designed to propitiate the 
powers upon which we depend, and in militantly fanatical 
intolerance on the part of those who felt that they had special 
access to the ultimate source of power and a peculiar authori- 
zation to act in its behalf. It has shown itself in noble 
humilities and unquenchable ardours. History shows that 
there is no channel in which the sense of dependence is pre- 
destined to express itself. 

But of the religious attitude which is allied to acceptance of 
the ideally good as the to-be-realized possibilities of existence, 
one statement may be made with confidence. At the best, all 
our endeavours look to the future and never attain certainty. 
The lesson* of probability holds for all forms of activity as truly 


as for the experimental operations of science, and even more 
poignantly and tragically. The control and regulation of which 
so much has been said never signifies certainty of outcome, 
although the greater meed of security it may afford will not be 
known until we try the experimental policy in all walks of life. 
The unknown surrounds us in other forms of practical activity 
even more than in knowing, for they reach further into the 
future, in more significant and less controllable ways. A sense 
of dependence is quickened by that Copernican revolution 
which looks to security amid change instead of to certainty 
in attachment to the fixed. 

It would, moreover, alter its dominant quality. One of the 
deepest of moral traditions is that which identifies the source 
of moral evil, as distinct from retrievable error, with pride, 
and which identifies pride with isolation. This attitude of 
pride assumes many forms. It is found among those who 
profess the most complete dependence, often pre-eminently 
among them. The pride of the zealously devout is the most 
dangerous form of pride. There is a divisive pride of the learned, 
as well as of family wealth and power. The pride of those 
who feel themselves learned in the express and explicit will of 
God is the most exclusive. Those who have this pride, one that 
generates an exclusive institutionalism and then feeds and 
sustains itself through its connection with an institution claim- 
ing spiritual monopoly, feel themselves to be special organs of 
the divine, and in its name claim authority over others. 

The historic isolation of the church from other social institu- 
tions is the result of this pride. The isolation, like all denials of 
interaction and interdependence, confines to special channels 
the power of those who profess special connection with the ideal 
and spiritual. In condemning other modes of human association 
to an inferior position and role, it breeds irresponsibility in the 
latter. This result is perhaps the most serious of the many 
products of that dualism between nature and spirit in which 
isolation of the actual and the possible eventuates. The sense of 


dependence that is bred by recognition that the intent and effort 
of man are never final but are subject to the uncertainties of an 
indeterminate future, would render dependence universal and 
shared by all. It would terminate the most corroding form of 
spiritual pride and isolation, that which divides man from man 
at the foundation of life's activities. A sense of common partici- 
pation in the inevitable uncertainties of existence would be 
coeval with a sense of common eifort and shared destiny. Men 
will never love their enemies until they cease to have enmities. 
The antagonism between the actual and the ideal, the spiritual 
and the natural, is the source of the deepest and most injurious 
of all enmities. 

What has been said might seem to ignore the strength of 
those traditions in which are enshrined the emotions and 
imaginations of so many human beings, as well as the force of 
the established institutions by which these traditions are 
carried. I am, however, engaged only in pointing out the possi- 
bility of a change. This task does not require us to ignore the 
practical difficulties in the way of realizing it. There is one 
aspect of these difficulties which is pertinent at this point. It 
is appropriate to inquire as to the bearing of them upon the 
future office of philosophy. A philosophy committed to rational 
demonstration of the fixed and antecedent certainty of the ideal, 
with a sharp demarcation of knowledge and higher activity 
from all forms of practical activity, is a philosophy which 
perpetuates the obstacles in the way of realization of the 
possibility that has been pointed out. It is easy both to minimize 
the practical effect of philosophic theories and to exaggerate it. 
Directly, it is not very great. But as an intellectual formulation 
and justification of habits and attitudes already obtaining among 
men its influence is immense. The vis inertiae of habit is tremen- 
dous, and when it is reinforced by a philosophy which also is 
embodied in institutions, it is so great as to be a factor in sus- 
taining the present confusion and conflict of authorities and 


A final word about philosophy is then in place. Like religion 
it has come into conflict with the natural sciences, or at least its 
path has diverged increasingly from theirs since the seventeenth 
century. The chief cause of the split is that philosophy has 
assumed for its function a knowledge of reality. This fact makes 
it a rival instead of a complement to the sciences. It has forced 
philosophy into claiming a kind of knowledge which is more 
ultimate than theirs. In consequence it has, at least in its more 
systematic forms, felt obliged to revise the conclusions of science 
to prove that they do not mean what they say ; or that, in any 
case, they apply to a world of appearances instead of to the 
superior reality to which philosophy directs itself. Idealistic 
philosophies have attempted to prove from an examination of 
the conditions of knowledge that mind is the only reality. What 
does it matter, they have said in effect, if physical knowledge 
recognizes only matter, since matter itself is mental ? Idealisms 
in proving that the ideal is once for all the real has absolved 
itself from the office, more useful if humbler, of attempting 
that interpretation of the actual by means of which values could 
be made more extensive and more secure. 

General ideas, hypotheses, are necessary in science itself. 
They serve an indispensable purpose. They open new points 
of view; they liberate us from the bondage of habit which is 
always closing in on us, restricting our vision both of what is 
and of what the actual may become. They direct operations 
that reveal new truths and new possibilities. They enable us 
to escape from the pressure of immediate circumstance and 
provincial boundaries. Knowledge falters when imagination 
clips its wings or fears to use them. Every great advance in 
science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. What 
are now working conceptions, employed as a matter of course 
because they have withstood the tests of experiment and have 
emerged triumphant, were once speculative hypotheses. 

There is no limit set to the scope and depth of hypotheses. 
There are those of short and technical range and there are 


those as wide as experience. Philosophy has always claimed 
universality for itself. It will make its claim good when it con- 
nects this universality with the formation of directive hypotheses 
instead of with a sweeping pretension to knowledge of universal 
Being. That hypotheses are fruitful when they are suggested 
by actual need, are bulwarked by knowledge already attained 
and are tested by the consequences of the operations they 
evoke goes without saying. Otherwise imagination is dissipated 
into fantasies and rises vaporously into the clouds. 

The need for large and generous ideas in the direction of 
life was never more urgent than in the confusion of tongues, 
beliefs and purposes that characterizes present life. Knowledge 
of actual structure and processes of existence has reached a 
point where a philosophy which has the will to use knowledge 
has guidance and support. A philosophy which abandoned its 
guardianship of fixed realities, values and ideals, would find a 
new career for itself. The meaning of science in terms of science, 
in terms of knowledge of the actual, may well be left to science 
itself. Its meaning in terms of the great human uses to which it 
may be put, its meaning in the service of possibilities of secure 
value, offers a field for exploration which cries out from very 
emptiness. To abandon the search for absolute and immutable 
reality and value may seem like a sacrifice. But this renunciation 
is the condition of entering upon a vocation of greater vitality. 
The search for values to be secured and shared by all, because 
buttressed in the foundations of social life, is a quest in which 
philosophy would have no rivals, but coadjutors in men of 
good will. 

Philosophy under such conditions finds itself in no opposition 
to science. It is a liaison officer between the conclusions of 
science and the modes of social and personal action through 
which attainable possibilities are projected and striven for. No 
more than a religion devoted to inspiration and cultivation of 
the sense of ideal possibilities in the actual would it find itself 
checked by any possible discovery of science. Each new 


discovery would afford a new opportunity. Such a philosophy 
would have a wide field of criticism before it. But its critical 
mind would be directed against the domination exercised by 
prejudice, narrow interest, routine custom and the authority 
which issues from institutions apart from the human ends they 
serve. This negative office would be but the obverse of the 
creative work of the imagination in pointing to the new possi- 
bilities which knowledge of the actual discloses and in projecting 
methods for their realization in the homely everyday experience 
of mankind. 

Philosophy has often entertained the ideal of a complete 
integration of knowledge. But knowledge by its nature is 
analytic and discriminating. It attains large syntheses, sweeping 
generalizations. But these open up new problems for considera- 
tion, new fields for inquiry; they are transitions to more detailed 
and varied knowledge. Diversification of discoveries and the 
opening up of new points of view and new methods are inherent 
in the progress of knowledge. This fact defeats the idea of any 
complete synthesis of knowledge upon an intellectual basis. 
The sheer increase of specialized knowledge will never work 
the miracle of producing an intellectual whole. Nevertheless, 
the need for integration of specialized results of science remains, 
and philosophy should contribute to the satisfaction of the need. 

The need, however, is practical and human rather than 
intrinsic to science itself; the latter is content as long as it can 
move to new problems and discoveries. The need for direction 
of action in large social fields is the source of a genuine demand 
for unification of scientific conclusions. They are organized 
when their bearing on the conduct of life is disclosed. It is at 
this point that the extraordinary and multifarious results of 
scientific inquiry are unorganized, scattered, chaotic. The 
astronomer, biologist, chemist, may attain systematic wholes, 
at least for a time, within his own field. But when we come to 
the bearing of special conclusions upon the conduct of social 
life, we are, outside of technical fields, at a loss. The force of 


tradition and dogmatic authority is due, more than to anything 
else, to precisely this defect. Man has never had such a varied 
body of knowledge in his possession before, and probably never 
before has he been so uncertain and so perplexed as to what 
his knowledge means, what it points to in action and in 

Were there any consensus as to the significance of what is 
known upon beliefs about things of ideal and general value, our 
life would be marked by integrity instead of by distraction and 
by conflict of competing aims and standards. Needs of practical 
action in large and liberal social fields would give unification 
to our special knowledge ; and the latter would give solidity 
and confidence to the judgment of values that control conduct. 
Attainment of this consensus would mean that modern life had 
reached maturity in discovering the meaning of its own in 
intellectual movement. It would find within its own interests 
and activities the authoritative guidance for its own affairs 
which it now vainly seeks in oscillation between outworn 
traditions and reliance upon casual impulse. 

The situation defines the vital office of present philosophy. 
It has to search out and disclose the obstructions; to criticize 
the habits of mind which stand in the way ; to focus reflection 
upon needs congruous to present life; to interpret the conclu- 
sions of science with respect to their consequences for our 
beliefs about purposes and values in all phases of life. The 
development of a system of thought capable of giving this 
service is a difficult undertaking; it can proceed only slowly 
and through co-operative effort. In these pages I have tried to 
indicate in outline the nature of the task to be accomplished 
and to suggest some of the resources at hand for its realization. 


Absolute and Absolutism, 10, 106, 

137, 154*-, 251 
Abstraction, io8., 148, 153, 158, 

207-9, 227, 235 
Action and Knowledge, 7, 8, 9, 32, 

35, 72, 84, 86, 144, 161, 186, 196, 

204, 205, 213, 222, 233, 276; see 

Knowledge, Operations, Theory 
Activity, pure, 213, 91 
Actual, 62, 284-6 
Aesthetic, 88, 92, 98, 147, 150, 177, 


Agnosticism, 185 
Analysis, 90, 119, 167 
Antecedents and Consequences, 25, 

45, 68, 72, 85, 100, 122, 124, 132, 

140, 143, 158, 164, 177, 183, 188, 

211, 219, 246, 253, 259 
Appearances, 23, 26, 32, 35, 101, 

105, 107 

Application of science, 78-9, 84 
Appreciation, 211, 250, 256, 284 
A priori, see Reason 
Aristotle, 17-19, 41, 74, 90, 174/2., 

232, 262, 268 
Arts, 7, 8, 32, 46, 47, 83, 98, 133, 

143, 198, 242, 256; liberal and 

mechanical, 74; social, 41; and 

science, 74 
Authority, 92; conflict in, Ch. Ill; 

seat of, Ch. VIII, 243, 249, 256, 

271 ; see Control, Standards 
Axioms, 136 

Barry, F., 95 n., 147, 154^. 
Beliefs, 7, 18, 28, 81 
Bergson, H., 89 
Berkeley, Bishop, 118, 137 
Body, 8 1 ; and Mind, 219 
Bridgman, P. W., 107/1., 195 

Causality, 154 

Certainty, 4, 31, 51, 60, 124, 196, 

242 ; see Control, Security 
Change, 20, 81, 82, 98, 102, 124, 

127, 198, 201, 225, 239, 277; see 

Church, the, 74, 242, 262, 268, 278, 


Cohen, M. R., io8fl. 
Communication, 144 
Compossibility, 153 

Conception of concepticrs, 1427?.; 

empirical, 159; and laws, 198; 

see Ideas, Operations, Thought 
Concrete, meaning of, 148 
Consciousness, 84, 217 
Consequences, see Antecedents, Ends 
Contingency, 22, 193-6, 219, 232, 

23843, 291 ; see Luck, Probability 
Continuity, 214, 220, 224, 229; see 

Operations, Relations 
Control, 96, 98, 102, 103, 124, 165, 

203, 230, 235, 246, 281; by arts, 

7> 32; by rites, 7, 14, 213, 242; 

by intelligence, Ch. IV ; two kinds, 

82, 127; ground of, 128 
Crisis, 44, 214 
Crisis in Culture, 41, 44, 48, 70, 76, 


Data, 96, 118, 129, 132, 165-6, 170 
Deduction, see Implication 
Definition, 50, 96, 121, 136, 146, 174 
Demonstration, 105, 109; see Proof, 


Dependence, 291 

Descartes, 43, 57, 61, 90, 136, 151 
Discovery, 1757 
Discreteness, 111,121,137,168, 173, 

Dualism, 16, 33, 52, 58, 75, 233, 

257-8, 292 

Economics, 79, 202, 266-9 

Eddington, A. S., 108, 125-6, 229 

Education, 240 

Einstein, A., 122, 139-41 

Emotion, 215 

Empiricism, 76, 104, 138 

Ends, 20, 23, 42, 50-1, 56-7, 91, 

97, 99, 145, H^, H9t 22 5, 232; 

and means, 38-9, 47 
Enjoyment, see Values 
Epistemology, 84, 117, 230 
Escape, from Peril, Ch. I; sec 

Essences, 35, 65, 88, 116, 135, 144, 

157, 170, 262, 290; properties of, 

i 54-60 

Euclid, 19, 87, 135, 151, 174 
Events, 81, 101, 122, 125, 140, 230 
Evils, 36, 64, 99, 286, 292 
Evolution, 64 



Experience, and Experienced Ob- 
jects, 75, 96, 103-4, 132, 161, 
187-92, 207-9, 230-2, 263, 281; 
as empirical and experimental, 

Experimental Method, 9, 27, 38, 
80, 84-104 and Ch. V, 161, 164, 
178, 192, 204, 231, 258, 250, 260, 

Explanation, 174, 218 

Faith, 58 

Familiarity, 177, 200 
Fichte, 62 

First Philosophy, 17-18 
Freedom, 238 

Galileo, 92-5, 274 

Generalization, 121, 129 

Good, 1 8, 36, 54-6, Ch. X; see 
Ends, Values 

Greek Science, see Aristotle, New- 
tonian Philosophy 

Habit , inertia of intellectual , 82 , 1 3 1 , 

168, 199,227 
Hartshorne, C., 238/1. 
Hegel, 62-3 
Heine, 59 

Heisenberg, 192-5, 237 
Heterogeneity and Homogeneity, 

92, 95, 102, 118, 128, 230 
History, 234 
Holy, the, 15 
Hume, D., 137, 150 
Hypostatization, 148, 158, 208,228, 

237, 252, 290; see Substance 
Hypothesis, 76, 104, 158-60, 165, 

168, 172, 176, 178, 264, 274 

Idealism, 25, 35, 61-3, 105, 125, 
133, 136, 160, 170, 180, 223, 245, 
264, 279, 287, 294 

Ideals, 62, 105, 157, 257, 265, 282, 

Idealization, three modes of, 287 

Ideas, 60, 84, 160, 165, 169, 284; 
and operations, Ch. V; free, and 
mathematics, Ch. VI; see Reflec- 
tive Thought 

Identification, 180-4 

Immediacy, 105, 106, 123, 175, 
178-9,211, 215, 249 

Immutables, Ch. II; 21, 23, 25, 51, 
89, 137, 155, 156, 200, 203, 238, 
295 ; see Change 

Incompatibility, 154 

Indemonstrables , see Axioms, Imme- 

Indeterminancy, 192-5; see Con- 

Individual, 10, 130, 141, 156, 163, 
176, 195, 196-9, 208, 215, 225-6, 
229, 235 

Industry and Industrialism, 78, 207, 
268, 289 

Inference, see Reflective Thinking 

Instrumental and Instrumentalism, 
38/1., 103, 130, 142, 196, 199,209, 

Intellectualism, 24, 57, 209; see 
Ubiquity, Vision 

Intelligence and Nature, Ch. VIII. 

Intelligibility of nature, 55, 199, 
205, 206 

Interaction, 26, 38, 77, 103-4, 144, 
165, 170, 197, 204, 223-5, 228, 
233 , 276 ; see Operations, Relations 

Intuition, 136, 176, 178 

Irrationality of nature, 201 

James, Wm., 200, 227, 271 
Judgment, 133; defined, 203, 248, 

Kant and Kantianism, 43, 59, 164, 

Knowledge and Action, Ch. I, 37, 
48, 81,103, 133, 164-8, 195; theory 
of, 42, 47, 83, 173, 219; types of, 
188-90, 211 ; unification of, 290 

Laissez-faire, 203 

Laplace, 193 

Laws, 30, 57, 193, 196-7, 236 

Life, 214 

Light, 123, 177, 194 

Locke, J., 28, 116, 176 

Logic, 19, 63, 65, 135, 148, 150, 

154, 179, 189 
Logical Forms, 66, 88-7, 141, 189; 

see Essences 
Logos, 88, 90 
Luck, ii, 15, 99 

Machine, nature of, 156, 236 

Magic, 41 

Mass, 93, 123, 138 

Materialism, 76, 105, 270 

Mathematics, 19, 30, 57, 65, 86, 90, 

95, 105, 123, 128, 195, 229, 242; 

in physics, 136-40; pure, 14551 ; 

see Symbols 
Matter, 93,257 



Maxwell, C., 237 

Mead,G. H., 9 6. 

Means, 46, 149, 155, 223, 226, 257; 

see Antecedents, Consequences, Ends 
Measurement, 86, 121, 147 
Mechanism, 200, 234 
Method, 7, 29, 37, 192, 206, 208, 

217, 240; supremacy of, Ch. IX; 

see Experimental Method 
Metric Objects, 125, 201, 229-31 
Michelson-Morley Experiment, 123, 


Mill, J. S., 109, 150, 174*. 
Morals, 9, 33, 40, 60, 98, 233, 239, 

250, 259; see Values 
Motion, 93, 121, 128 
Movement, qualitative, 90 

Nature, 54, 56, 201, Ch. VIII, 232, 

287; as God, 56 
Newman, Cardinal, 53 , 286 
Newtonian Philosophy, 60, 93-4 

107, 111-13, 136-8, 178, 183, 

192-3, 195, 203, 221 
Noble, E., 236/1. 

Non-being, 21, 22, 37; see Changes 
Novelty, 176-7 
Number, 124, 147, 149 

Objects, Perceived; see Experience, 

Perception, Qualities 
Objects, Physical, 97 , 102 
Observation, 81, 82, 84, 137, UO, 

165, 197-8 
Operations, 82, 193, Ch. V, passim, 

132, 166, 192, 207, 246; origin 

of, 119 
Opinion, 23, 8 1, 92 

Participation, 195, 203, 233, 277, 


Pathology of beliefs, 217 

Peirce, C. S., 38^., 140 

Perception, 80,86-8, 117, 137, 168, 
220, 229, 254; see Observation, 

Peril, Ch. I, passim, 7-9, 10, 35, 213 

Peripatetic Philosophy, see Aristotle 

Phenomena, 59, 142, 231, 286; 
nature of, 102 

Phenomenalism, 184 

Philosophy, 8, 17, 18, 21, 27, 31, 
65-70 ; modern problem of, Ch. II, 
especially, 42, 45, 50, 67, 71, 100, 
127, 270; true problem of, 47, 
67, 160-1, 240-1, 243-4, 294-8 

Physical science, 23, 64, 77, 78, 178, 

181, 227-9; Chs. V, VI, passim, 

207-1 i 

Plato, 135, 151, 174, 256, 261 
Possibility, 149-54, *57, 216, 247, 

284-8, 295; see Symbols 
Practice, depreciated, 8, 17, 25, 31, 

38 ; meaning of, 32 
Pragmatism, 38/1. 
Primitive Life, 13, 14, 34, 39, 99, 

Probability, 10, 28, 194, 254, 276, 

Problem, importance of, 97-101, 

118, 129, 169, 172, 197, 209, 

213-26, 231, 235 
Proof, 175, 177 
Purpose, 99, 234 

Qualities and Qualitative Objects, 
Chs. II and III, passim, 87, 165, 
220, 222, 226; in modern science, 
54 > *53; primary and secondary 
117; tertiary, 228 ; static, 121 ; see 
Aesthetic^ Data 

Quantity, 90 

Rationalism, 29, 82, 118, 138, 149, 

158, 164, 172,201, 244,251 
Realism, 65, 168, 170, 176, 228, 

245, 261, 280, 290; see Essences 
Reason, 20, 51, 59, 75, 86, 88, 106 

Recognition, 177 
Reflective Thinking, 106, 136, 170, 

*73-6, 209, 211, 250 
Relations, 82, 90, 101, 102, 116, 121, 

126, 129, 140, 148, 152, 156, 161, 

166, 168, 176, 198, 210, 233, 238, 


Relativity, theory of , 122, 140 
Religion, 14-18, 32, 52-3, 69, 154, 

Revolution, Copernican, Ch. XI. 
Revolution, Scientific, 30, 51, 83, 

85-6, 90,243,246 

Santayana, G., 228 
Satisfaction, 246-8 
Scepticism, 185-6, 209, 218 
Science, 23, 25, 27, 28, 44; and 

art, 74; physical, 77; and the 

real, 131, 198, 207-12, 235, 239 
Schleiermacher, 291 
Security, Ch. I, passim, 26, 32, 34, 

37, 127, 179, 196; see Control, 




Sensational Empiricism, 25, 106, 

118, 150, 159, 164, 170 
Sense, 81, 86-8, 109, 137, 150, 163, 

220, 246; see Data, Perception 
Sense-Data, 65, 167-9, ^5 
Signs, 97, 124, 127, 167, 203, 225, 

228, 230 

Simultaneity, 139 
Social Knowledge and Objects, 178, 

Solutions, see Problems, Secunty, 


Space, 121, 128, 137, 153 
Spectator Theory of Knowledge, 

see Vision 
Spencer, H., 64 
Spinoza, B., 54-8, 136, 200, 274, 

Standards, 54, 156, 161, 163, 192, 

228, 243, 261, 263; see Test, 


Structure, 143, 157 
Subjective and Subjectivism, 33, 

47, 60, 144, 204, 221, 228, 230-1, 

235, 261-2, 266, 273 
Substance, 116, 124, 178, 197, 288 
Supernatural, 14, 219 
Symbols, i45~9, 207 

Taste, 250 

Technology, 74, 79, 119, 128, 256 

Tertiary, see Qualities 

Test, 100, 106, 118, 120, 124, 131, 

150-60, 226, 265 
Theology, 1 8, 30, 52, 74 
Theory, placed above action, 9, 10, 

25, 31; in relation to practice, 

67-70, 184-5, 267 

This and The, 226 

Thought, n, 105; as directed 

activity, 119, 129, 155, 160, 213, 

254; defined, 214, 217 
Time and Temporal, 92, 99, 121, 

128,' 137, 139, 223, 254, 259 
Tools, 12, 82, 87, 119, 130, 131, 

143, 146, 178, 179, 259, 264; see 

Tradition, Classic, 12, 20, 24, 28- 

30, 35, 44, 75, 129, 191, 204, 221, 

273-4, 278 
Transcendentalism, 35, 60, 77, 158, 

245, 271 
Trxith,see Antecedents, Consequences , 

Test, Validity 

Ubiquity of Knowledge, 103, 127, 

171, 209, 230, 277-81, 282-3 
Uncertainty, 39-40, 65, 213-26, 


Uniformity, 156-7, 199 
Universals, 23, 136, 148, 155, 156 
Use and Utility, 41, 102 
Utilitarianism, 33, 245 

Validity, 44, 60, 106, 124, 136, 141, 

Values, 24, 27, 32, 33, 36, 40, 

43, 65-6,92, 95, 186, 187, 222, 

Ch. X 

Verification, see Test, Validity 
Vision, as knowledge, 26, 203, 


Will, 52, 58, 203, 216, 222 
Work, as a curse, 8; as material, 9 

R u 5 r\m ?L o u se -